Skip to main content

Staying Ahead: Bloodaxe and Poetry DVDs

As the Guardian observes, today, in its review (by British poet Frances Leviston), Bloodaxe has released (yet another) anthology, this time to mark its 30th anniversary, combining word with sight and sound: rather than including a CD with the book it's offering a DVD of poets, to complement the text (as Rattapallax was among the first to do, in 2002, with its anthology, which I co-edited, Short Fuse; now it does DVD/magazines).

Despite what Graves and Riding might have said, in their famous critique, anthologies helpfully situate poets, communities, and moments, especially for readers who cannot keep pace with the baffling shifts and turns of the poetry world in all its momentum.

The review also (I was glad to note) mentions the Oxfam Life Lines CDs. Oxfam did a limited poetry DVD for the first Life Lines CD, in 2006, but it only featured 12 or so poets; it was made available on YouTube, too. There is nothing all that "new" about the Bloodaxe book/DVD initiative. Rather, it seems a natural extension of what's been happening in multimedia poetry dissemination since 1999, at least.

And, before that, Bob Holman produced the brilliant, MTV-style The United States of Poetry, as book, and TV series, which combined poem and image in a truly uplifting way. The future is likely to be to not release the book, or DVD, at all, but have all the work online, on a platform that allows poetry videos to be downloaded, or viewed, there.

Still, it is a good sign. Recently, British poetry publishers have begun to openly, and bravely, explore the digital domain. I look forward to seeing (and hearing, and reading) this new anthology, and welcome it. If poetry means to stay alive for a contemporary audience, it will do more of this; though, as Davie observed, with regards to Hardy, and his anthology pieces (he wanted to place poems in The Golden Treasury, that time's version of canonicity) - the best poems are sometimes those not written for a reader, but, instead, irregardless of one.

In this lies the current tension in poetics - no longer between experiment and mainstream - but between those who think poetry can or should be reproduced and distributed, much like any other form of entertainment - and those who think it is, however various, ultimately an "art" - an art perhaps best left resistant to the systems put in place by capitalism to sell, use, even, yes, enjoy, culture and text. I myself am torn on this issue.

I long argued for a broad distribution of poetry (and Eyewear practises this effort in its modest ways); and yet, more and more, am aware of how poetry qua poetry is a subtle, complex form of linguistic expression, that can become miscommunicated if not handled with love and informed appreciation - even study.

Poetry asks of its reader a kind and quality of attention that only close reading (as opposed to close listening, or watching) usually affords. Perhaps this is two issues, related, but not directly impinging on the other: a need to get more poetry to more people, and yet, a need, also, to make sure that poetry itself, in the process, remains true to its traditions, and its elements.
Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

AMERICA PSYCHO

According to the latest CBS, ABC, etc, polls, Clinton is still likely to beat Trump - by percentile odds of 66% to 33% and change. But the current popular vote is much closer, probably tied with the error of margin, around 44% each. Trump has to win more key battleground states to win, and may not - but he is ahead in Florida...

We will all know, in a week, whether we live in a world gone madder, or just relatively mad.

While it seems likely calmer heads will prevail, the recent Brexit win shows that polls can mislead, especially when one of the options is considered a bit embarrassing, rude or even racist - and Trump qualifies for these, at least.

If 42-45% of Americans admit they would vote for Trump, what does that say about the ones not so vocal? For surely, they must be there, as well. Some of the undecided will slide, and more likely they will slide to the wilder and more exciting fringe candidate. As may the libertarians.

Eyewear predicts that Trump will just about manage to win th…

DANGER, MAN

Like a crazed killer clown, whether we are thrilled, horrified, shocked, or angered (or all of these) by Donald Trump, we cannot claim to be rid of him just yet. He bestrides the world stage like a silverback gorilla (according to one British thug), or a bad analogy, but he is there, a figure, no longer of fun, but grave concern.

There has long been a history of misogynistic behaviour in American gangster culture - one thinks of the grapefruit in the face in The Public Enemy, or Sinatra throwing a woman out of his hotel room and later commenting he didn't realise there was a pool below to break her fall, or the polluted womb in Pacino'sScarface... and of course, some gangsta rap is also sexist.  American culture has a difficult way with handling the combined aspects of male power, and male privilege, that, especially in heteronormative capitalist enclaves, where money/pussy both become grabbable, reified objects and objectives (The Wolf of Wall Street for instance), an ugly fus…

OSCAR SMOSHCAR

The Oscars - Academy Awards officially - were once huge cultural events - in 1975, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr, Shirley MacLaineandBob Hope co-hosted, for example - and Best Picture noms included The Conversation and Chinatown. Godfather Part 2 won. Last two years, movies titled Birdman and Spotlight won, and the hosts and those films are retrospectively minor, trifling. This year, some important, resonant films are up for consideration - including Hidden Figures and Moonlight, two favourites of this blog. Viola Davis and Denzel Washington will hopefully win for their sterling performances in Fences. However, La La Land - the most superficial and empty Best Picture contender since Gigi in 1959 (which beat Vertigo) - could smite all comers, and render this year's awards historically trivial, even idiotic.

The Oscars often opt for safe, optimistic films, or safe, pessimistic films, that are usually about white men (less often, white women) finding their path to doing the right thin…