Is there a thing as amateur poetry in this day and age?
Some friends of mine write and publish poetry just for the sheer joy of it.
In my view, even the great majority of poets are amateurs.
Perhaps only a tiny percentage stand a chance of getting into "serious" literary magazines, and many have no interest in doing so (I know I don't).
What does amateur poetry add to the cannon of the so-called "professional" poetry? I've always read "amateur" poetry because of its unique strengths. For starters, its aim is quite different when compared with "professional poetry". "Amateur" in itself is not a reprehensible term, and if much amateur work fails to be good poetry, the same can be said for a great deal of professional work, however astutely embellished. Moreover, in a wider scope, the great majority of all poets are amateurs since few earn a living only through their poetry writing, and even the household names usually have to supplement the money coming from publishing with teaching, editing, reviewing.
Amateurs may also be professionals in other walks of life: doctors, lawyers, engineers (Maria Rosa Pereira is a Civil Engineering as a matter of fact), etc., and still be devoted to their craft, putting in long hours stolen from day jobs.
The problems with amateur poetry are in no way any different from the issues regarding its professional counterpart: pompousness, obscureness, fad-following and restriction of theme. I can safely say that Maria Rosa Pereira's poetry is anything but cliché-ridden. "Intensely personal" comes to mind.
When I make an attempt at judging poetry, be it the amateur or professional kind, I always consider how the poems actually work, and be less judgmental about their supposed clichés and a feeling of déjà vu.
I don't really care about metre issues and some artifice in rhyme. What floods my soul when reading poetry is whether the characters are believable, the "dialogue" is convincing, and the text gives a good/high level of heart and soul resonance. I'm thinking "energywellness" here... Maria Rosa Pereira was able to give her poetry the right feeling. Some of her verses filled my soul.
I've chosen the following example, which I think can be viewed as good example of what I mentioned above:
Não me dês café
Não me dês rosas
Não me dês música
Não me dês
Don't give me coffee
Don't give me roses
Be a rose
Don't provide me with music (*)
Don't give me
NB: In Portuguese "Dar música a alguém" has also another meaning: "To wind someone up". I've chosen it's more down-to-earth meaning when doing the translation: "Don't provide music". I prefer this "reading" in translation...
NB2: "Arranhando Armário" = "Scratching the Closet"
NB3: Disclaimer. Maria Rosa Pereira is a friend of mine. In no way did this fact impair my critical judgment. Some of my writing friends avoid asking me to review something of their own because I'm a real pain in the neck when it comes to close reading...