The impetus behind this blog is praise. I hope it comes across.
I made a vow that I would use it thus when I began it, first on Posterous and now WordPress. That’s how Lifesaving Poems began, as a way of saying thank you to poets I’d encountered in poems that had knocked me sideways, and the poets, teachers and friends who had introduced me to them.
Several years ago I made the mistake of reviewing some poetry books of my peers somewhat unkindly. Both the judgements I made and the tone I made them in. I was unkind. On occasion I even took pleasure in it. I shouldn’t have done it. But I did. I regret it, and I am sorry.
If you are one of the writers I injured: I am sorry.
Another vow. I will review books. But only to praise. (There are some in the pipeline by the way).
I thought of this at a funeral of man I did not know well last week. We learned that as a young man he had seen great suffering at first hand, as a young officer in the army. His response was not to live a life of bitterness but of seeking to do good for others less fortunate than himself. As Anthony Quinn said about Raymond Carver ‘he had every reason to brood yet preferred to be grateful’.
There is sorrow. There is regret. But there is also gratitude: ‘I’m grateful to you, you see. I wanted to tell you’ (Carver, ‘For Tess’).