M. Travis Lane fires the inaugural salvo in Anstruther Press's new Manifesto Series. Her pamphlet, Truth or Beauty, is, among other things, a call for poetry that can give us "the truth about what it is to be human."
Recently a new literary magazine, whose name I omitted to write down, declared that it would “eschew” publishing the “overly personal.” But the personal is where all poetry begins. There are, I agree, some subjects not suitable for public chatter, but poetry and prose fiction, demanding as artworks more of our private attention, should not be so confined. Should we censor the musings of Leopold Bloom? (Perhaps what the magazine meant by “overly personal” were feminist subjects like menstruation?) There are no subjects and no emotions unsuitable for poetry. There are only two kinds of poetry: poetry that seems to have been written with ink, and can be intelligent, charming, serious or cosy—but always cool, and poetry which seems to have been written in blood: passionate, personal, and sometimes uncomfortable. As Walt Whitman writes in Leaves of Grass, “Who touches this, touches a man.”