Well hi and hello to everyone! (or to no-one, seeing as no-one is reading this right now). The reason I am here is because I have decided to attempt to blog my way through Stephen Fry's The Ode Less Travelled. If you don't know it, it's a book about poetry, about reading it but mainly writing it. And it has a nice red cover with a quill and ink on the front....
So, that's what I'm going to do. Interesting or not to anyone else, at least I hope it will be fun for me!
The chapters are as follows: Metre, Rhyme, Form, Diction and Poetics Today. Exciting, right? If not for the fact that I know the wonderful Stephen is going to guide me through, I would be feeling a bit sick right now. The memories I have from school, and in fact from my English degree, of poetry, are not particularly good. As Stephen reminds me, being asked to 'respond' to a poem was just the most annoying thing I'd ever heard back then. How should I respond exactly? By doing a little dance? By taking my shoes off and throwing them at the teacher? Usually in fact I responded by not understanding what the hell the poem was on about. The thought of any of the big poets still fills me with dread. Wilfred Owen, urgh. The only stuff I can think of that I liked was Shakespeare's Sonnets, and even then all I can remember is that my tutor told me that there were major undertones of homosexuality, i.e. Shakespeare was gay. I would like to read them again to be sure of this, but truthfully, I can't be bothered. And then there was The Faerie Queen: I distinctily remember painfully reading all of the approximately 100 pages, only to go to my tutorial to find no one else had read it. Then when the tutor asked me how it ended, I answered truthfully (and embarrassingly) 'I don't know.'
Stephen assures me that it doesn't matter if I'm any good at poetry. Definitely a good start, as I can absolutely make no promises. It's probably going to be a load of crap. But at least it will give me something to do, won't it?
I also have a little problem, which is that I generally only write poetry that rhymes. Because without rhyming, I'm just writing a load of words, and starting a new line whenever I feel like it. Maybe working my way through this book will help cure this problem, or maybe it will just secure for me that I must rhyme all the time.
Reading the foreword, I already feel comfortable because of Stephen's friendly, endearing manner. Something that should be scary and yawnable somehow isn't.
I do find it funny that he promises not to bore the reader with any of his own poetry, which is the exact opposite of what I'm going to be doing. For that, I'm sorry. But at least right now my readers are imaginary, so I don't need to feel bad!
The foreword finishes with a word that I didn't know, so I am passing it on. Plus I quite like it so I want to include it. The word is Opsimath, which means 'one who learns late in life.' I don't know if twenty seven counts as old, but then it really depends on who you are talking to.
From here on in, therefore, I will consider myself one.