A Selection of Poetry by Phil Roberts
POETRY IS MEMORABLE SPEECH
W. H. Auden was the person who coined the phrase “memorable speech” to describe poetry, and I think it's an apt description. Like any of the many great enterprises of humankind, poetry is so diverse that it is hard to explain in a way that is both succinct and meaningful. Memorable speech doesn’t do the job perfectly, but it fits as well as anything else. Amongst other things it challenges the poet to shape ideas and language in such a way as to rise above the ordinary, even when the ordinary is the topic.
The purpose of this website is to give just a taste of my poetry, in the hope that you’ll want to read more. This is therefore just a sampler. One day some courageous publisher may choose to honour my work with paper and print and a fetching design and a marketing strategy – all those things that publishers exist to do, but which worries them in the case of contemporary poetry.
A small selection of my other poems can be found at the website www.banishingboundaries.com. This is the website outlining my philosophy and theology – my worldview in prose. No worldview of substance can be expressed through reason alone, for we humans inhabit the larger universe of reason and imagination; hence I found it necessary to complement my essays on topics like God and truth and love with carefully chosen poems which say similar things but in a different way.
Like most people, my interests are diverse and so my writing is correspondingly diverse. At different points in my life, there have been different preoccupations. To take an obvious example, love and lust belong more to my younger days, whereas now I’m often focused on issues of ageing. That said, it appears that I’m more inclined to be a poet of thought than of pure feeling. Lyrical poetry is not completely outside my ken, but I use poetry most often as a tool in thinking, expressing a point of view. So it is that increasingly in recent years I’ve become more preoccupied with issues of one kind or another: issues of the psyche, of faith and ethics, of society and social justice, and of politics.
Poets typically feed off other poets, drawing inspiration to greater or lesser degree from the great masters of the craft. I am no different. From time to time, there’s a powerful current that draws me back to favourites including Homer, Spenser, Pope, Shelley, Coleridge, Longfellow, Hopkins, Yeats, Eliot, Auden, and Douglas Stewart. From this it will be evident that my bent is generally classical, though I’m not at all averse to experimentation, pushing the boundaries of language, as it were, and trying to see how new ways of writing might fit the challenges of dealing with contemporary topics. An example is the poem You Must Have ID. The mark of good poetry is that it pushes the boundaries of language sufficiently to engage the reader, without undue detriment to sense or intelligibility. Ideally a poet will score on both fronts: making thought and feeling not only memorable but also more intelligible.
To avoid any confusion, I am not the Canadian Phil Roberts who is the author of How Poetry Works, the British Phil Roberts who wrote Fargone, or the Australian Philip Roberts who publishes poems on www.booksie.com. I am, one might say, an emerging poet from Brisbane, Australia, who just happens to have the same name and has no taste for seeking a nom de plume. I am, simply, me. You can find out more by consulting my bio.