I've lost count of the number of blog posts, articles or Facebook posts pleading for poetry to be more accessible, to reach out to a wider audience. I agree up to an extent, and it's a challenge that has created some stunning work. At the same time, I don't think accessibility should come at the expense of innovation and experimentation. How boring if all poetry were anecdotal platitudes, in the same recognizable form, telling us what we already know.
Andrew Haydon in this article, which pertains to theatre and the idea that it is on some level perceived as a 'club', proposes the elegant solution of having more quality 'comprehensive criticism'. This could be applied to numerous artforms, particularly the more niche or avant garde elements within them.
Easier said than done of course, there is a penury of writers willing to review such works. If you know your tastes lie outside of the mainstream, and you'd like to review difficult poetry work, do get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org or, for live literature, email@example.com.
As such, unexpectedly (and I absolutely promise I didn’t realise that this was where this piece was going to end up when I started it), Jack’s predicament on first seeing A Series of Increasingly Impossible Acts heavily underlines the imperative necessity for good, clear, comprehensive, comprehensible criticism. Criticism which remembers to explain what the critic thinks she’s seen – and a sketch of why it is the way it is – as well as their opinion of it.