Thursday, 18 November 2021

Reflections on the myth kitty

Following a recent Twitter thread about the myth kitty, I thought I’d use the longer format of a blog post to explain my approach to its use in contemporary poetry.

First off, I take Larkin’s notorious eschewal of the aforementioned myth kitty not as a destination but as a point of departure. In other words, I do favour poems that don’t explicitly draw on and invoke classical mythology. However, it would be absurd not to recognise that all our reading and writing is shot through with our knowledge of myths.

As a consequence, when I write poems about Aldershot F.C. footballers of the 1980s, about their triumphs and disasters, tragedies and comedies, qualities and flaws, many of their stories implicitly remind us of those same myths. This is inevitable and necessary. A renewed, highly personal myth kitty such as this doesn’t ignore what has gone before. Instead, it recognises our cultural baggage, enabling us to empathise and reflect on how classical stories are played out in contemporary settings.

Specific present-day scenarios are capable of refreshing the myth kitty via new perspectives. In my view, the implicit invocation of classical myth is therefore more powerful than explicit allusion, though it forces the poet to take a far greater risk instead of reaching for shortcuts that everybody immediately understands. What do you think…?

1 comment:

  1. Wondering if this is what you mean,

    Aldershot played like Sisyphus today.


    Top of the league on Friday night,
    Bottom again by Sunday...


    Watched the ball roll
    From the opposition's goal line
    Straight into the back of their own net.


    The myth must be embedded in the earthly situation, or else erupt from it.