Poetry cannot be improved to any significant degree: An online interview with Teri Louise Kelly

Teri Louise Kelly:

Writer and Editor
Lives in Adelaide, South Australia

Co-founder of Blunt Trauma Press (www.blunttraumapress.com)
author of ‘Sex, Knives & Bouillabaisse’, ‘Last Bed On Earth’, & ‘American Blow Job’, the poetry anthology ‘Girls Like Me’ the short story collection ‘Punktuation’ & the novella ‘The Colour of Your Blood’.

Dupur Mitra: First question, why do you write poetry?

Teri Louise Kelly: I write poetry to release those feelings within me that cannot be summarised in prose form. As a prose writer (initially), I found that moving to the poetic genre gave me the opportunity to express more independent, free-flowing thoughts that did not necessarily need to within the more rigid (verbose) structure of prose. Being able to use metaphor and image in a more concise manner and tailor words in a way that gave them extra depth and extra sensory meanings also interested me. Having written poetry now for several years while still writing prose, I find that the poetic licence enables stronger description in my prose.

Dupur Mitra: Do you think poetry play role in your society? If yes how and if not why?

Teri Louise Kelly: Poetry is in a vibrant stage here in Australia, for the last several years it has enjoyed an upsurge in popularity, to the point where there are many regular readings of all sorts, from pubs and clubs to the more proper academic setting. Slam poetry is extremely popular, and events are organised both locally and nationally. Often mixed with the label of “Spoken Word” poetry as an “art form” runs the risk of becoming diluted simply due to the amount of contributors and participants, the problem with increasing popularity of the genre is that it can be spread too far – sometimes effecting the quality of the poetry itself. There are many good poets however, and many are managing to get their words to a broader audience on the back of this increased awareness in the form. The role of poetry here in Australia, I believe, is to offer a viewpoint above and beyond print media (journalism) and traditional prose, to offer its readers a chance to see matters from an altered perspective.

Dupur Mitra: Who are your major influences as a poet?

Teri Louise Kelly: My major influences in poetry remain Edgar Allin Poe, Hart Crane, Richard Brautigan, William Carlos Williams, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Jack Micheline, Arthur Rimbaud and Charles Baudelaire.

Dupur Mitra: What does being a poet mean to you?

Teri Louise Kelly: Being a poet can be many things and shouldn’t be constricted by traditionalism. There are many kinds of poets, but at its essence being a poet means having the responsibility to create visual scenes, to build poetic bridges and engineer tunnels to the mind. Poetry should be esoteric at times, and the poet should be able to write in a voice that is not prosaic or postulating, but giving and appealing.

Dupur Mitra: What is poetry?

Teri Louise Kelly: Poetry is the bridge that spans the human consciousness and subconsciousness, a rope bridge between what is beautiful and what is terrible, it is, and should remain, a pathway those in search of an undisclosed truth or vision, can walk barefoot.

Dupur Mitra: What are your observations about trending of world poetry?

Teri Louise Kelly: The current trend in world poetry is hard to define; personally, I do not believe that poetry should be in and out of various trends but should remain aloof and constantly changing. There are many conflicts in the world and much poverty, so naturally poets affected by these things will write poetry based upon those experiences, similarly poets from oppressive backgrounds will pen poetry dealing with marginalisation. Many poets are returning to the more abrasive era of western poetry from the 1960s and 1970s, perhaps searching for the key to dismantle the capitalist regime. And, as ever, those noble words of the great masters are still being reinvented and reinterpreted by a new generation of poets struggling to come to terms with both the world & their place in it.

Dupur Mitra: Is poetry movement can improve the poetry? if yes how, if not why?

Teri Louise Kelly: No, poetry cannot be improved to any significant degree, I think Rimbaud said as much many years before we even came to be poets ourselves. On an individual level the poet can improve his or her work, but too much of what needed to be said by poetry, has already been said. We cannot, as poets, hope to supersede the intentions, thoughts and dreams of generations of poets who have come before – the best we can hope to do is be true to ourselves and write the truth. To be a poet one must be brutal, and one must expect to receive rebuke and intolerance, only that way can we deliver work that will, at best, stand alongside the great work already penned. To write something beautiful, something with enduring longevity, it must be from the heart and not the brain.


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