Its been a while since I wrote a blog, but the last few days have provided an interesting slice into my life. Last week I sent out a link to various poetry people across the world, offering to send out a free copy of Axis & Allies which I uploaded onto Completely Novel.
Its the second release of my Pendragon Collection, a ten volume set incorporating a great deal of my work thus far. Not much interest, of course, & it would be while visiting StAnza poetry festival a few days later. That was one of several cultural events I attended & reviewed since last Tuesday. Two operas, a play, a classical concert & whole heap of poetry has been served up into my psyche for absorbing & assessment, & i the process, of course, my poesis banks have been filling up.
Last Tuesday there was Edinburgh Studio Opera’s Marriage of Figaro, while Wednesday afternoon saw me drive through to Glasgow to catch a Play, Pie & a Pint set in a dominatrix sex pad. After this I wrote the review & then went up to Colin’s who proceeded to fill me in on his retirement plans in India – setting up a Casteaway creative arts space – with Irene selling haggis for £20 to Indians not happy with Colin’s ‘git tae fuck’ attitude to his caste-free policy. There was also something about a machine wandering the villages of Kerala changing coconut husks to charcoal, some of which he’d use as a smokie. ‘Your creative arts space will be like a cultural hot-pot,’ I said, ‘nah Damo, a cultural curry.’ After a couple of hours with Colin I drove back into Glasgow for Peleas & Melisande, an opera at the Theatre Royal. Driving back at night I began to muse on Axis & Allies, & skimmed though it on my return home, noticing a few mistakes here & there, including repeated stanzas, a gnawing worry for my sleepdrift. Next day I spent in St Andrews, at StAnza, an account of which you can read here, & it was in the early hours of the next morning that I corrected my Axis & Allies errors, pretty much finalising the book. I think, perhaps, I’ll print it out in the summer for a perusal while we are in Thalian Crete. The filling poesis banks also helped me to focus on creating moderen musical, mult-muse masques for Charlies & Malmaison & maybe others for next year.
This week has also seen a great deal of progress in my as yet un-named universal language. Listening to the opera, well reading the subtitles more like, gave me a bit more vocab & the new poesis helps fire my mind into organising it all. There’s to be about 500 word, not enough for detailed conversation, but complex & flexible enough for most everyday situations. Combining words can also be possible – such as arm-joint being elbow & leg-joint being knee. The creation of a language – which is the raison d’eter of all poets really – also ties in with my approbriation of the Pendragon title. For me, it will be up to my successor to introduce a new letter & the vocab surrounding it, & thus the language may evolve slowly & surely as these things ought to.
Friday & Saturday were spent writing reviews up, driving aboot & then saturday night heading back to St Andrews with the wife, an account of which you can read here. During the week Emily had also been hacked somehow & via air B&B & Paypal lost £833 quid to some Russian. She got the money back, but the whole thing was funnily timed cos the tangerine nightmare is suddenly in the middle of the throes of a scandal involving Russian hacking. Other things of note in the week were me & climbing a hill — well Arthur’s Seat, but it got him out of the house – I even let him drive the car a bit along the one-way circuit about the slopes. I’ve also begun editing the Tinky Disco Show, with Steve. I’d filmed the band with a loose storyline recently, & the final format is gonna be a four-part series; Episode 1 – Rise o’ The Tink / Episode 2 – Kenny Beards / Episode 3 – Pond Life / Episode 4 – ????
As for my wee poetic epiphany, it began with, I guess, the first ‘critical response; if you can call it that. A certain gentleman (GS) was unhappy I centralised my stanzas. The chat went;
GS: I think you’re very hopeful when you ask people to manage 1000 pages of centred text. I managed two before giving up.
ME : Its a dipper, folk have got a lifetime to read it
GS : I spend quite a bit of my lifetime avoiding centred text. Try that on some other readers and see what they think. I edit a poetry magazine, and know from reader reactions that most people strongly dislike centralised text, unless there is a strong reason for it – and even then only in small doses. Am I right in thinking that you yourself don’t read much poetry? Have you ever tried reading a long centred piece by someone else?
ME : The stanza (ive called it a tryptych) looks like a candlestick, i like it – its my epic
While up in StAnza I finally & truly understood how todays poets write for other poets not for the people. The reason is rhyme… if you go up to the vast majority of people & say what are the first tihings that come to mind when I say the word poetry, rhyme will undoubtedly be first or second unless they are a poet or a member of a literary community conditioned to believe that rhyme is unessential for poetry. It is this cutting of the chord that has left the poet bereft of the public at large, sat on a little raft wandering the ocean of word-art, while the world waits to hear some proper poetry – that rhymes. OK, Paradise Lost is blank verse, & there are some excellent Free Verse, but these should stand out as curious strokes of genius rather than as standards to the norm. ‘No-no-no – no-one does that anymore,; balk the critics, but our biggest selling poets; Burns, Kipling, Pam Eyres even – were rhymers, & that some of our so-called greatest living poets are lucky to sell 2000 copies shows a massive detachment between the people the poets, a general malaise that is only getting worse, driven by a back-scratching poetry establishment who are actually the reason why the poetry world is dying on its arse. People are shying away from poetry because it’s exclusive and high-brow – & it should be given back to the people as storytelling, painting a vivid and human picture to entertain & teach. Of course, Axis & Allies is a prime example.
I found this essay bu Fred Chappell called Chronicling the Culture: The Poet and the Modern Epic Ambition (May 1989), which has a great insight into the mindset of a poetry world beginning to disintegrate into itself towards the end of the 20th century. Where he says, ‘there are certain readers for whom The Bridge is an entertaining performance and it is to these readers that poets must address themselves, partly because they must find their audiences where they can, and partly because American culture, for all its self-vaunting anti-intellectualism, still does not consist entirely in pizza and rock and roll,’ perhaps it would have been more for Hart Crane to have composed an epic poem about rock n Roll, with a bit of pizza thrown into the mix. In the same essay, Chappell also wrote, ‘when the epic poem about George Washington is written at last, it will not contain the story of the cherry tree. But it will tell us, using the materials that we already know almost by heart, a story that we have never heard before, a story large, majestic, and truthful, ‘which I found to be rather interesting, as I have been slowly beginning top muse on such an epic – as if to paint the perfect president as a counterfoil to the tangerine nightmare.