I recently had an email asking me to take part in a survey about poetry. This was one of the first questions:
I’m a bit bemused by the way the reasons for writing poems are divided between ‘class exercises’ and ‘personal reasons’.
I’ve written poems for whole host of reasons: I’ve written for love, out of boredom and malice, to impress, to annoy, to amuse, to encourage, to teach, to try and win a competition, to improve my writing, as a reaction to another piece of writing… I think I’ve even written for money. None of those is my main reason for writing, but they are all perfectly valid, and I’m sure there are far more that I haven’t listed.
I don’t feel happy lumping all those together as ‘personal reasons’. The expression just feels so hearts-and-flowersy, as if the poems were all adolescent angst and should never have been allowed out of my personal journal.
I’d have expected different from a respected literary magazine. Why couldn’t the options have been ‘as a class exercise’ / ‘for other reasons’ ?
Or perhaps, ‘under protest’ / ‘willingly’.