Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
As 2016 draws to a close, I thought I’d mention some of the books I read this year. I tend to have three things on the go at once: prose, poetry and non-fiction – so the selections come from each of those sections, although two of the writers transcend those boundaries.
Lux the Poet – Martin Miller, 1998. (Thanks Jan.) Read the rest of this entry »
Social media transmits news and fixes mass opinion at an unprecedented rate. Richard Dawkins’s memes – self-replicating ideas – evolved into cat pictures with captions, and those pictures were spread around millions of people. The blogsphere/twitterati/instafam soon hits on a trend and runs with it until new ones emerge and the old ones are forgotten. Our ‘hive mind’ quickly selects phrases, jokes and attitudes; tags people with labels of hero and villain; and chooses trends, news and fashion which then pass into what might be termed ‘common sense’.
This year it became the fashion to bemoan the year itself. 2016’s favourite enemy was 2016. The calendar year became to modern people what the various devils, dibbuks, duppies, djinns, incubi, faeries and etc. had been to people of pre-Enlightenment civilisations. “Oh 2016, why have you taken from us yet another most precious member of our tribe?” wailed the tweeters and posters from their sackcloth toilet seats, virtually tearing their hair and beating their breasts in mourning. Read the rest of this entry »
I saw someone share Canadian poet Chris Gilpin’s blog from last year arguing that we need to avoid “adopting the term ‘slam poet’”. Slam poetry, he says, is not a ‘genre’. It’s a way of running an open mic and it’s an international movement, emerging historically with the aim of freeing poetry from the “elite cultural gatekeepers”. It is excellent critique and I hope it is read far and wide by young poets who engage in live performance. Gilpin complains:
“Aspiring slam participants (and apparently even those who have no interest in participating) … copy the most obvious elements of performance cliché—yelling, speed, tones of distress, waving their arms—believing that they are correctly recreating a cool, new poetic style. In this way, the idea of slam poetry has crushed a great deal of artistic self-expression, encouraging poets to conform to something they can’t even define.”
The fact that he can describe a set of conventions in writing and delivery which are followed by its producers and recognised by its consumers suggests that ‘slam poetry’ has become a genre. And that genre is a bit wack. Can we turn back the tide? I’ve been running slams for ten years now in the UK, so I thought I’d give some tips for fellow poets to consider.