Why traditional poetry?

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Beginnings

My love for traditional poetry began early in life. I ascribe it wholly to the influence of my mother whose love for Afrikaans poetry inspired in me the same. Her frequent recitation of lines from the great Afrikaans poets demonstrated to me the value of the art form. Even so, I came late to composing poetry myself, writing my first verses only in my early twenties. They were all lyrical ballads inspired by songwriters I admired at the time—especially Bob Dylan and Jim Steinman whose respective themes and styles captured my imagination.

When I later took up songwriting, my interest in poetry found expression in lyrics, and for the next decade, this was the sum of my poetic pursuits. Then in my mid-thirties, I started taking an interest in poetry proper once more, and in 2012 composed “Autumn” (an ode to the season) and another poem (since lost) the title of which I vaguely recall as “A Day by the Sea” (a recollection of love). These were the only poems I wrote during that period, but “Autumn” was significant because it was the earliest incarnation of what I am doing now.

Becoming a poet

In 2016, I had the idea to compose a verse as “lyrics” for the track “Silently You Sail” on Airship. Soon thereafter, I wrote a couplet for The Zephyr and the Swallow, followed by a ballad for the eponymous album Forgotten Fields. At the same time, I slowly began to rediscover my rural surroundings: the sights and sounds, landscapes and creatures. Though I had been in the midst of them (the “fields”), familiarity had rendered them all but invisible to me (“forgotten”), and I longed to reconnect with the pastoral world about me.

Not one to do anything halfheartedly, I immersed myself in the agrarian and unspoilt beauty of the Overberg region where I live in the Western Cape of South Africa; and as it revealed itself to me anew, poetry became my inevitable response. I began drafting rough poetic sketches—at first sporadically, then ever more frequently, until at last, it was all I wished to do—and it soon became clear a collection was in the making. By early 2018, after much deliberation and reservation, I was ready to assume the self-ascribed title of Poet.

Traditional poetry

I embraced the art form, eager to explore the themes of Forgotten Fields, thitherto undertaken primarily through experimental music, in its literary antithesis: traditional poetry. The experience has been engrossing. From an artistic perspective, traditional poetry is the inverse of experimental music, introducing a complementary aspect to my process; for where in experimental music I may bend, break and invent rules, in traditional poetry I must obey, uphold and defend them, drawing from me creative ingenuity of a different kind.

Conventions introduce challenges and opportunities of their own, resulting in work with a character impossible to create at the avant-garde extreme of the gamut. Traditional poetry may now be out of fashion (hence my self-publishing the collection upon completion), but it lends itself perfectly to what I wish to express. My poetry celebrates a forgotten world where Simplicity, Innocence and Joy awaits; where Reverence and Wonder have meaning; where swallows in the heavens inspire awe and ripples in the grass contemplation.

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