Accessibility vs Elitism


A somewhat inflammatory article by Rebecca Watts in the latest PN Review has been engendering some lively discussion amongst my friends this week. Don’t read it if you’re a spoken word artist – it will make you very cross, especially if you’re an admirer of Hollie McNish, whom Watts repeatedly misrepresents, in an oddly personal attack.

I’ve shot my mouth off about this article on Facebook quite a bit and I don’t want to repeat everything I’ve said there, but I do want to address the accessibility vs elitism argument, which seems to be endlessly rehashed amongst poets of all leanings.

If you strip away the gratuitous nastiness, Watts’s article does make some valid points. I share some of her disquiet about the modern cult of “honesty” in poetry – the idea that a poem’s value lies in how true or keenly felt the content is, not in how well…

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