It seems that anyone can call himself a poet these days. Just put words together with some sort of vague rhyme and suddenly Milton's got a rival – Shakespeare's under style-threat.
Yet, poetry is more than this. It has to be worked at. Words have to be shaped and re-shaped in order to squeeze evocation from them, forge associations, echo emotion, pierce the predictable and let the light in through the cracks that secure our familiarities.
Bruce Cockburn always saw, however, that it is the poets who awaken imagination and do the stuff politicians can never do:
Male female slave or free / Peaceful or disorderly / Maybe you and he will not agree / But you need him to show you new ways to see.
Don't let the system fool you / All it wants to do is rule you / Pay attention to the poet / You need him and you know it
An old mate of mine has retired from being a vicar and now proclaims himself to be a poet. And I think he is. He sent me the draft of his first collection of poems and I liked them. So, I offered a strong endorsement… and was glad to do so. Paul Canon Harris has produced a book that repays re-reading because the poems themselves make you stop – make your imagination quietly fire up.
Best Before should not have a sell-by date.