Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The State of British Poetry 1

Seems to me that anyone who's afraid that poetry in Britain has lost its way hasn't been travelling in the circles I've been travelling recently. Though I have been known to complain about especially performance poetry, my second trip to Arran confirmed that even that is in a reasonably happy state, with a new collection from Gerry Potter about to hit the stands (in fact, his first as Gerry rather than Chloe.) Performance poetry is often about story telling, and his stories from life in Liverpool are often highly colourful and moving, though in a rather traditional mode.

I met the poets from Unsung magazine in Arran, who had camped under the stars in Lamlash and got eaten alive by the English-hating midges, who managed to set up a reading in the Lamlash Bay Hotel on the Wednesday evening. A very lively reading ensued, and some great writing from all concerned.

But it's the post-avant side of Manchester poetry that interests me most. I really must get hold of Richard Barrett's latest publication (review copy, anyone?) and James Davies and Tom Jencks are both doing things that both puzzle me and intrigue me. Matt Dalby's sound poetry performance at The Other Room was also wonderful, if at times rather hard on the ears.

In fact, throughout the country, there's a host of weird and wonderful experimental things going on. Tom Chiver's selection of London poets for penned in the margin, City State, has loads of new young poets, many of whom are playing with the edges of what poetry is, mixing up the mainstream with the nonmainstream, the performance with the post-avant, etc...

But all this goes on under any kind of radar. The BBC Poetry Season had Tom Chivers on Late Review, but that was it. If you read the Guardian Review, you'd think all poets were published by Faber and Bloodaxe and there weren't very many of them. In fact, there's loads, and a lot of it adventurous and exploratory in ways that I don't understand sometimes, but I'd rather poetry went to new places than stayed in the same places all the time. Long live British poetry!

1 comment:

Desmond Swords said...

Scott Thurston, with partners in rhyme Tom Jenks and James Davies, has put his heart where his head is by instigating the Other Room.

Manchester has never lacked poetical talent and the contemoprary scene has witnessed a collision of the performative and the philiosophical fused into birthing a Live poetry culture increasingly self-reliant and disseminated via new technologies upending the funnel-like structure of publishing.

The wide mouth of a slush-pile submission process, the narrow stem gate-kept by a handful of poetry guardians controlling the flow of appearance for ensuring quality control - has inverted.

Now the process is a free-for-all in which anyone with a computer and internet connection, can be a published poet if they wish: a state of affars which naturally means the flooding of the market with poetry, from lifeless dull generic stuff which wouold not have been published in book form prior to the revolutionary changes technology brings - to high level gear clearly knowing and showing it.

Thurston &c aptly capture the current state of the poetry village reality, with their other room: two words that sum up the spirit of the evolutional upending. Room for the other to breathe and sing: not be dismissed as worthless by the same-as-me guardian-keepers fanning a very narrow flame of poetic colour within the greater spectral band of poets which, essentially, make up 50% of all persons.

The reader may be somewhat surprised at this figure, that half of us could be poets: however it's true if we consider that as many as one person in two has a basic ability to write in their unique voice. Naturally very few within this 50% band have the interest, inclination, time or knowledge to know about how reaching the source of self in Letters can be executed; but let this not blind us to the truth that as many as 50% of us have a basic ability for writing beyond the fuctional literacy one needs for day to day life.

This is why Thurston and company have a popular room in their control, because they have a place for the other: we who make up a 50% minority in the mind of they who would cast we who are the same as them, out of the picture for being not as inherently intellectually privileged enough by the fates, to write verse.

Scott is a star man and long my he reign o'er the Mersey ompholas as the representative of inclusion and not the otherness we who work in the experimental realms of po-biz, have had to endure for far too long of the less philisophical and penetrating practitioners whose reasons for being in the poetry business, are as many and varied as our own love for poetries.

Cut-ups, chance, aleatory, make-it uppy stuff: whole swathes and schools of incredibly talented practitioners denied the oxygen of a fair hearing by the public who would be far more recpetive to the inclusional poetries based on hard learnt expertise come about by a massive love for words, than many of the current publishers would find it agreeable to admit to.

No: poetry rules, it always has and always will and where there's a will, the way makes its own self heard.

love and peace Steven my co-religionaist in the high church of theatrical hoo ha.

spairfl is word ver - spare flarf anyone?

flara is final word ver

flar a F in there and that's prophecy.