Should Poetry Have a Moral Purpose or a Moral Porpoise?

I was just about to start a poem based on this morbid idea: when I see those bloody Guardian Eye-witness centrefolds of bomb victims in Iraq, I always look for the shoe laces and imagine the victim tying their shoelaces at the start of the day. It’s a sad and poignant image, and just the sort of stuff for my poetry.

But then I applied a self censor, call it The Antenna. How will this poem be received? Well, not very well, of course. Who wants to read about bomb victims in far away Iraq? Masses want reality TV, and celebs, not bomb victims in Iraq. And why should I respond to the media anyway?

My friend, Susan Utting, is a brilliant poet. She has just won the Peterloo Poetry Prize with Under the Blue Ball. She doesn’t write about bomb victims in Iraq.

So should I continue with my unpopular subject regardless of the deafening silence? Just because an audience (and I know you are out there) nods, should I stop writing poetry with a moral purpose? Maybe I should make it meaningless. Let it have a moral porpoise rather than a moral purpose. Now that sounds like a good title.

Well, of course, there is no alternative but to continue with what I want to write. Being liked or disliked is equally important. My poetry is about being true to myself. I look at it this way. Even if I wrote the most wonderful poetry in the world, the prize would be so small as to be negligible. Poetry revenues are so slight it makes me wonder why so many poets long for success. Poets long for success like preteen wannabee celebs hanging around The Poetry Society’s HQ in Betterton Street, London. Pushy? They could teach the fly-by-night gardeners who want to lop the top off your Leylandii a thing or two. I think basically poets are insecure. Anyway, this poem wot I’m writing…