Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Guest Poet: CAD Laureate.

We love the English, Irish
and Welsh
but not the Briton
preaching imperialism.
Trevor the Tramp

Carol Anne Duffy is a much cannier choice for Poet Laureate of Britain than the previous incumbent.

A red brick gal, more or less polytechnic class, who knows how to parry and jab; how to stick the stilleto in and make herself the centre of things with a few choice words her supporters in the press, eager to publish any of her musings and goo themselves silly over no matter what the quality - will hotline to the front page.

Once the tories get in and Duffy's no longer in a scenario of having to go head to head with her natural political pals, she may well prove herself a potent weapon. A realist - unlike Motion who we can legitimately suspect really fancied the royal bit - Duffy looks like she (hopefully) couldn't give a hoot about all that, and so could use the position to achieve her political thrills, whilst also elevating her own selling power sky high.

It's like the Kate Moss cocaine picture furore, the more outspoken she is, the more success she'll draw. So instead of going for the unobtainable removal of the monarchy from politics, she'll limit herself (i am guessing) to sticking the boot into the freshly scrubbed toffs of the all male tory cabinet, and all they'll have to defend them is Boris. Heady days ahead, and fair play to her.

She is the type of talent to make a man go dizzy with envy, but at the end of it all, a straight goer, and potentially one of the best ever. She has the passion for it, i suspect and being an honorary sister myself, committed to the Feminist cause, i will be rooting for her to do the smug tory automatics whose version of England and Britain will be far removed from Duffy's, who for all her weaknesses in the past, of CBE and OBE, in the long-game, could prove to be the biggest noise yet.


Being human and a mass of contradicting and polysemic realities all vying for expression in an age where distraction and ephemera, the one minute of fame telescoped into a bewildering array of format and potential which can spin one's focus dizzy and lead to poetic shallows more than the depths -- I was a victim and perpetrator of prejudice against this talented poet.

I fell prey to behaving in the very same way we rail against as self-appointed moral guardians of our fellow humanity, and it was only on hearing her speak this weekend that the appallingly sloppy and misinformed manner i had exhibited in relation to her, fully hit home.

Until then, I had decided on the basis of ignorance and jealousy, to cast her as a wicked witch, based on nought but double standards, heresay and the tittle tattle of commentators with a comedic bent, swimming in seas of misanthropy and sexism dressed up as the gauche longueur of world weary Larkinesque figures who claim verbal ability can legitimise what harm their self-expression may cause, seeking to negate any psychological impact by excusing it through their wholly male genius.

I had damned her on the basis of gender and talent, attempting to disguise it as something noble and in the public interest to rant against her poetry, on the simple basis of begrudgery. But her appointement set me free and brought into focus the similarities, comedically outweighing any miniscule differences my theoretical speculative discourse aiming to demob the house of Windsor might effect in existential reality. A shouter on the boards, unheard and ignored until the truer note appeared, slowly emerging and finally freeing into song on the appointment of the new laureate.

Reading back the po-faced pose of the narrator/s in those experimental apprentice works of prose, I see them now for what they are - the seperating of substance from what is soulless and unworking. A different route, wholly new, understandably so, the online method of practice for the purpose of poetic attainment being an impossible reality prior to Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau creating a world wide web reality out of thin air 20 years ago.

Duffy's appointment is a good day for Poetry.


She is just like me, a private person with a clear poetic focus and desire to spread the gospel in order to materially improve the inward and outward lives of they for whom poetry is capable of doing so.

She started out, like me, at Liverpool's Dead Good Poets, in the Everyman Playhouse Bistro basement. Bestrode the same floor, saw the same faces, cut her creative teeth in the same no-frills plain speaking scouse milleau where humanity and horror, comedy and heartbreak founded the local culture there. The one place in Britain where soccer is the sole religion, all there was and is to cleave to when everything else fell away and poverty forced people to pool together in communal bond.

The Liverpool Echo is the voice of the city, and poems appear there sincerely written on the death of loved ones, which the more sophisticated, better spoken, will openly snigger and dismiss as being not pukker English, as though the English *we* is but seven or so people in the South East whose speaking voice cuts the air with inbred class. By comparison, scousers have the hardest uphill fight to verbal gravity, because they have so many strikes against them from birth. Born in Toxteth or one of the identikit swathe of project housing, the city's inhabitants are overwhelmingly working class, a deep substrata and cultural flux on which the sing-song mix of Lancashire Welsh and Irish, combine into the uniquely Liverpool accent whose borders are firmly fixed, ending at Maghul in the North, Halewood to the South and Prescot in the East.

A strictly defined band beyond which accent marks one out as wollyback outsider, the unmistakeable voice itself proof of status, belonging, religion and cult of being a scouser. A hard tough, lovable place with planetary potential for any artist working in the area of social change by words orated in a musical grace that is very difficult to imitate convincingly, and still to this day, a long and double edged shadow of the Fab Four hanging o'er any prospective balladeer and songsmith, poet and person seeking to inhabit that space the mop tops got by natural wit and ability to connect.

Liverpool's too small and even its poets have these four to thank for what happened to them. The centre of gravity there makes it difficult to break away into one's own note and only now, nearly fifty years hence, does a dreamy bluffer stand any chance of
wearing a different brand of rainement. Ditch the curly wig and lightwight nasal yer know there lah abhorrence middle class comedians foisted on the city before their routine of cod-socialist imposters proved exactly that. Elton and Enfield no more for the people of Liverpool than Motion will be rapping with Tupac.

Up the republic of Poetry !


3p4 said...

great blog Des,,

particularly liked "uphill to verbal gravity" and the long sentence paragraph "Until then, I had decided on the basis of ignorance and jealousy,etc etc

that jealousy thing Des,,i get that impression from many of your more ranty posts,,its a biggie for you,,

jealousy is a debt paid off with self respect

my opinion offered as a an acknowledgement of respect for your honesty,,

Background Artist said...

Jealousy is something few speak of. Reading around the place, the only whiff of it comes in the odd "grr" or a short witticism relating to how the author writing on another, wished they had thought of written what their are talking of.

Jealousy is a normal human trait most except the very saints of literature, it is logical to assume, swirls about their being at some level and will rear up in the odd twang or fill them with loathing and shoot them towards total misanthropy and result in a writer whose signifying percliarity is sheer sneery beh and bah !

When i was a kid with the rest of my fate stretching ahead, my face an unlined tabla rosa yet to be filled with the dissapointment of the first post-flush term if cub-adulthood, i used to tread the boards declaiming dialogue from the greats and not so greats, beneath a hot spot glow and the acrid pungent smoke of grease painting the very stage.

Being young and with a conscious of youth, untutored by the machevelian force only a life of knock-back an No ! brings, i was never jealous because we were all on the same level, all potential and no experience, relying on gut instinct and natural wit, Luckily for me, i had a real gift for acting the maggot, extemporised pretending, good with mimicking accents and suited to what i am doing now, but then writing was not on the agenda. My dream then was to be discovered by Steven Spielberg and get whisked off to La La land,

Alas, after twenty years waiting with a firm faith only the seriously deluded and congenitally religious-minded can maintain, it slowly dawned on me if i wanted to make a mark, fulfill my potential which by the point i decided to, had withered to a small pinhead of knowing i had summat, a capacity to dream as good as any king or queen mapping out their empires - I would have to get stop performing the theory and capture the dream within and put into practice by printing it out.

However, during my brief tenure as a bore with belief, it never surprised me how others in the stage-squad, flared up, became upset and generally how my dreams acted, when i was pretending practically, acting the roles which seemed natural and easy, just being myself - could occassion such loathing in others.

I was quick with my gob and as a kid had the capaicty to bat straight back without thinking. So if anyone said something witty, i had an innate ability to unconsciously return that verbal wit with some startling feature. A goft for wordplay, which at the time, i didn't even think about, it was just who i was.

It was only later in life, what was happening then clarified into seeing it more detached. I would say some smart remark, wounding a rival bore, and it would hurt them. They went away and thought something smart back to say, said it and there's me the dopey git, not realising all the effort they were putting in, and just blithely returning all the wit unawares of what the potential in the gift i had was.

This may sound a tad conceited or arrogant, but this state of being only lasted till my early twenties and from then on, as i failed to nurture this potential, it dwindled into the small pinhead of belief after 15 years of descent.

So i was never jealous, but coming into the game as i did, in my mid thrities, when a lot of bores have already doen the apprenticeship, and me being a northern working class builders labourer who once had the potential to go another route, meant i had a lot fo people making assumptions about me based on what they saw.

But when i got to college as soon as i started writing, that was the start of the rise to where i am now, in a dublin garret, happy as a pig in clover because the potential after eight years nurture has come good, and i have a second chance.

I am just happy that i found writing before i died, as i was in the wilderness so long, there's a bit of real0life gravity which has zip, diddly sqaut to do with anything so trivial as Art. In the sense i can now inhabit two staes at once. Be an intellectual who can dig a trench as good as the fellas the intellctuals who romance trench digging, go on about.

Performatively, i have never suffered from jealousy, because the thing with performing is, you get two people who are artists together on stage and they usually raise each other's game, because any twang of jealousy, through instinct and the innate ability some artists either have or not - is harnessed, without really being conscious of it - into your own thing, your own performance.

And after a while formal study at third level, you get to understand the nuts and bolts behind what is essentially an intuitive thing.

When i came to dublin, the weekly poetry group i fell in with, had many amazingly gifted reciters, delviering from memory, which is what i did all through college and for the first year out, so the first four, every single poem that came out, as it came out, was memorised, took to the rehearsal room, worked on, perfected and when it came to reciting it, straight out the dome.

Just a game with self, some anal way of doing the very best professional job. And then Raven turned up from San Francisco and myself and Sweeney (Noel) who were holding joint top spot, in the sense of week in week out, relaxed, great time, all round happy with our art - thought, shit, pack in now, he's the best we can never beat.

But after a few weeks, we started seeing the mechanics beihind the flawless delivery and took heart that this poetry machine was human, and that was a big lesson, as we all ended up infuencing each other, in a performative, live sense.

But most poets are contend to concentrate on the print, whereas i went the other way, and now you meet a poet i the flesh and the first thing you think is, Sweeney and Raven, compared to them, how does this person rate.

Woman are different in the sense, the competition isn't the same, as there is always the gender thing, so rather than go gooey over the poems, rightly or wrongly, you sometimes might be playing a different game, sometimes not.

But jealousy, it is there in the bardic lore, one of the four principle Joys a poet can have:

"The joy of health untroubled in the abundence of goading one recieves when they take up the prosperity of bardcraft."

Which amounts to successfully ingnoring the sneers and smart cracks.

I know now, clear as day, that the people who write to try and topple others with a barb one line, are operating on a lesser level. I was at the top at sixteen, bang at it, had a ball, everything young men dream, of, it happened to me between the ages of 16 - 21, and so i have no regrets or jealousies at the iomportant age, because io was too busy enjoying myself to be concerned about other people having a shit teenage time.

When i hit twenties, men who were coming into their own then, i would laugh at them for competing still as though the game was still going. in my own mind at least, i was unaware of my gift for verbal good times, which meant i could talk my way into anything, the joy and challenge was just that, relying on your gob, get your dream, bullshit, waffling to women, telling outrageous lies as a young man, pretending to be foreign, really enjoying myself, at the age i can look back on and be honset about, that many fellas look back on as a time of angst.

If someone makes you look foolish, so what, once you let it roll off, that's when you're motoring.

Now at GU, i am laughing, as there were a raft of people, all anonymous, all privileged media types, trying to stop a working class Lancashire digger, from waffling.


Eaxctly !

and what happened was all their strategy failed, as i had truth and therefore natural justice on my side, as i did not seek it out, i was being genuine, but them British people who do not even now how their own heads are made, thought i was somehow, hmm, i dunno, insolent, some bullshit realting to class and Crown, and in the end, God cvame to me and not them.

It's ok, i am only a dreamer and thanks very much for allowing me the chance of waffling my dearest darling three potato four.

gra agus siochain

graw agus she-oh-cawhn

love and peace

3p4 said...

very harmonious with my own color scheme Desmond,,i shall probably make a few posts about particular lines and thoughts,,i deal with text in small chunks,,

thanks for all the humanity implied/fulfilled by sharing

3p4 said...

i have reflected a great deal and decide that i will only say this

sometimes the bones of your words have a great deal of meat,,you have on occasion given me a banquet

the words about the young boy naturally endowed and inclined toward a martial tongue made me reflect a great deal,,and i came to realise that the lessons learned that showed the calmness to say nothing was more rewarding in the long run was indeed a complex class,,and me the only teacher,, you have given me some footnotes for my discertation (actually its a bunch of post-it notes )

3p4 said...

variety has been a staple in their game "

do you ever listen to what the talking heads say,,i had a hockey game broadcast mumbling in the background as i was absorbing my post and i heard that little quote,, god i love listening deeply

security word,,inglad (input haz gladden yez?)

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long said...

All I can say is, Duffy is like an onion, her poems make you cry, not because you feel like crying, not for beautiful reasons, but because they give off a stench. I hope this doesnt lower the selling power of onions. ps your not sponsored by those free advertizing grabbing nameless bastards r u?

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