I love poetry. I read it. I write it. But I have hardly ever featured it on Linda’s Book Bag, so it gives me enormous pleasure to welcome author and poet Dane Cobain today. Dane’s latest book, Eyes Like Lighthouses: When the Boats Come Home is a collection of poems and is available for purchase here.
Excitingly, Dane agreed to write a guest post for the blog all about the relevance of poetry, but he also offered to write a poem exclusively for Linda’s Book Bag if I gave him five words to work from. Instantly, five words popped into my head: starlight, eclectic, desire, windmill, narrative. This is what Dane wrote and I think it’s rather wonderful, especially as Erika Eigen’s song Lighthouse Keeper was featured in the film sound track to A Clockwork Orange:
For Erika Eigen
All my life
I’ve been a lighthouse,
and the night
is a sight
that frightens me;
I stand alone
on the sandy shore,
sure to shore up my defences
with eclectic collections
of electric fences,
meant to break down barriers
like a windmill grinding flour
I desire silence;
I lust after naphtha
to keep my lamp lit
because sailors seek starlight
to know where north is,
but the stars don’t show the shoreline
where the rocks break waves
like trainers on a pavement.
This is my cross-eyed
I saw dead men’s reflections
when I looked into
I am the last
of a dying breed;
the lights are going out
and they won’t be lit again
in our lifetimes;
they made me retrain
to be a solar panel.
Eyes Like Lighthouses When the Boats Come Home
Eyes Like Lighthouses When the Boats Come Home is Dane Cobain’s first book of poetry, distilled from the sweat of a thousand memorised performances in this reality and others. It’s not for the faint-hearted.
“I’ve never seen anyone do a stream of consciousness piece as talented as that. Very impressed.” – Mark Allsard-Will, author of Saskatch-A-Man and co-founder of Cuckoo’s Nest Press
“Dane’s poetry is a multi-layered spiral of the macabre, quirky humour and disjointed imagery. Not only does he make you think, he captures the small forgotten moments of everyday life.” – Nikki Dudley, co-editor of Streetcake Magazine
“…[Dane] combines concrete detail with socioeconomic concerns.” – Lorna Wood, associate editor of Gemini Magazine.
Why Poetry is Still Relevant
A Guest Post by Dane Cobain
Okay, okay, I get it. I read poetry at school, you’re thinking. It’s that stuff that rhymes and talks about flowers and love and stuff.
And you’d be right. But poetry is much more than something that’s reserved for students and academics, and whilst the great poets of the past (like Walt Whitman, John Milton, and the Williams – Shakespeare, Blake and Wordsworth) have a lot to offer, it often seems like they’re no longer relevant to the busy lives that we lead.
If you’re lucky, then you’ve probably come across some of the more recent work, starting with the beat poets of the 50s – Allen Ginsberg being a fine example – and continuing through Charles Bukowski and into characters like John Hegley, who came to define what we think of today as the performance poet.
These days, contemporary poetry is almost a subcategory of hip-hop, and there’s certainly something poetic about the way that rappers string a sentence together. When you take a look at a rapper doing an acapella track, it can sound like a poet if you close your eyes, as long as they’re not talking about guns, drugs and women.
Kate Tempest is a contemporary poet making waves in the UK, where I come from; she’s done sell-out shows at big stadiums, performed with a backing band, and is, in many ways, the voice of a generation. Jay Hulme is a talented poet I know who speaks up for the LGBT community; then there are the countless poets I’ve come across who use poetic styles and language to talk about the world that we live in.
Poetry isn’t just something that you read on a page anymore. It doesn’t have to rhyme, and it doesn’t have to make sense, but it does have to create a feeling or to make the reader think about the world around them. If you’re not reading contemporary poets then you’re missing a trick – whilst you have to wade through it to find the really good stuff, like you do with any genre, it’s still worthwhile.
It lets you experience an entirely new type of literature, and watching performance poets on YouTube is another great way to add a visual element to your intake. Being a reader is like eating, and it’s important to have a healthy diet of different genres.
And, in the same way that a short story can encapsulate the same range of emotion or the same sense of belonging and characterisation as a novel or a novella, so can a poem. In fact, collections of contemporary poetry can help you to see the real world around you in a whole new light, by surprising you with a quick flash of insight.
So go out and read some contemporary poetry – it’s much, much more difficult for people to make a living as a poet than as a novelist, and so your friendly contemporary poets need your help. And if you need a place to start, you can always kick off your new interest with Eyes Like Lighthouses When the Boats Come Home, my poetry collection.
About Dane Cobain
Dane Cobain (High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, UK) is an independent poet, musician and storyteller with a passion for language and learning. When he’s not in front of a screen writing stories and poetry, he can be found working on his book review blog or developing his website. His debut novella, No Rest for the Wicked, was released by Booktrope in the Summer of 2015.