Sunday, May 31, 2009

The hapless BBC continues apace with its Poetry Season. Friday night's Newsnight Review, dedicated solely to poetry, presented a hackneyed dichotomy of poets-for-the-page (Ruth Padel, Geoffrey Hill) opposed to hip-hop and poetry slams, with nothing in between. Still, they did interview Chris McCabe and Chris Hamilton-Emery, even if they only got about 10 seconds between them. They completely blew the chance to plug Salt's buy-a-book campaign. Instead, they spent ages on the latest Bloodaxe anthology, without putting the anthology, or Bloodaxe itself into any kind of context. Surprisingly, Simon Armitage talked the most sense of anyone on the panel, and gave a good spiel on how poetry shouldn't try too hard to entice readers, but should be an awkward, inconvenient truth-teller (or words to that effect). It's a pity he doesn't follow his own advice. It is strange, though, and even a little heartening, to see poetry given this much space on mainstream media; it's also a reminder of how far it's been pushed into the cultural margin.


The Editors said...

It was a little depressing, wasn't it? My biggest gripe was the fact that Chris McCabe clearly had a long list of interesting and innovative young poets he wanted to rave about, but wasn't given the air time in which to do it. Far more air time was given over, in fact, to plugging the Bloodaxe anthology, which I suspect will be just as conservative and MOR as all previous Bloodaxe anthologies of a similar ilk, only this one has '21st Century' in the title: the laziest linguistic means of tapping into the zeitgeist ever devised.

On the plus side, did you see Armando Iannucci's take on Paradise Lost? Great stuff: precusely what literary broadcasting should be - someone who clearly knows and loves their subject, talking about it non-stop for an hour. That's it. Radical. And it managed to achieve the impossible: making me want to re-read Milton.

Simon Turner, Gists & Piths

Sam said...

I made it through less than ten minutes of Newsnight Review before turning it off in despair.

I had been tempted to give it another go, but it doesn't sound like I missed much.

Alan Baker said...

Don't get me started on Bloodaxe anthologies... I've downloaded the Milton programme and will give it a try on your recommendation Simon.

I agree about Chris McCabe. And Chris H-E's piece was so heavily edited it came out as garbled.

Sam, I expect you'll be looking forward to Ian Hislop on the history of the Laureateship...

Sam said...

Haven't watched the Hislop prog. yet, though did record it.

I will give the one on Lynette Roberts tonight a try, but suspect I may be disappointed by it.