this term has been coming up a lot lately in Ottawa because many poets will be coming together to share their work at VERSeFest, an upcoming week long extravaganza of a whole pile of styles of poetry. You will find a reasonable explanation of the term by Allison Armstrong. i believe this term is being used in good faith, without any attempt to dismiss or show disdain. on the one hand this is a practical way of attempting to describe poetry, but i have reservations:
i don't want to be classified. and i don't like the binary nature of it. and i don't like the fact that the designation classifies a person rather than the work.
i write for the ear, the imagination and the gut. i haven't written anything so far that i haven't wanted to work both on the page and in front of an audience. i read and practice my work out loud and revise in an attempt to make the work compelling for an audience and for readers.
when i am a member of an audience at a poetry reading, i enjoy a good performance, but that word is also difficult. poems can operate on many levels. i sometimes find that the poet's delivery of the poem gets in the way: either too emotive or not emotive enough.
on Saturday night i listened to the readings of Sandra Ridely & Steven Ross Smith. Sandra read her work and i closed my eyes. for me, the person at the front of the stage disappeared and i listened closely. i was mesmerized by the sensuality, the rhythms, the language, the tone.
Steven Ross Smith read from books 3 & 4 of fluttertongue and his versatilty was amazing. book 3- disarray was full of tight, energetic lines, whereas book 4-adagio for the pressured surround had more pauses, was more contemplative & meditative.
it's a very difficult balance to want one's work to be compelling both on the page and on the stage, but i think for some of us, it might be an important element of our work. and i hate to see this disregarded.
i also have heard some great spoken word poetry that would work beautifully on the page, that i want to return to and have the luxury of reading myself, taking time to savour the language, the humour, the brilliant and witty wordplay.
i don't like being in a camp. i want to experience all kinds of variety of poetry and i don't like others being in a camp. i want us to be able to enjoy and appreciate one another's work, but i think this term: "page poet" is alienating.