Monday, June 13, 2005

Contemporary Brit-po

3808 students: Here's a recent article from The Guardian about the contemporary British poetry scene:

Poetry is being ruined by establishment--festival chief

by Richard Jinman

British poetry has become almost irrelevant, because the establishment has closed ranks against fresh ideas and forms, the director of an experiment called Text Festival said yesterday.

"[It] has run out of steam," Tony Trehy said. "There's nowhere for it to go other than becoming a mild entertainment or an anachronism."

Mr Trehy describes the festival, which opens today in Bury, Greater Manchester, as a declaration of war against the poetry establishment.

He hopes it will change the staid image of the poet by giving a stage to poets who mix text with everything from music, dance and mime to graphic design and mathematics.

"If people come expecting a [conventional] poetry reading they will go away having had a much more exciting experience," he said.

"If establishment figures like Simon Armitage or Carol Ann Duffy are judging a competition, you know what kind of result you're going to get," he said.

"There's real excitement about the Turner Prize, but who cares who wins the TS Eliot prize nowadays? The dead hand of the British poetry establishment means more challenging and inventive work is being seen somewhere else."

The poet laureate, Andrew Motion, said he had some sympathy but it was an old argument. "A lot of those barriers have been torn down now, and bloody well right too.

"The poetry scene has got more tolerant than it used to be and this is reflected on all sorts of levels," he said.

"I can see the shape of his [Trehy's] argument, but I don't see much evidence of a closing of ranks. We all have something to learn from one another, but in the end there is more take-up for one kind of writing than another."

The Text Festival opens with an exhibition celebrating the life and work of Bob Cobbing, an internationally recognised British exponent of concrete, visual and sound poetry, who died in 2002.
If you'd like to see the article itself, you can find it here.

comments: 1

Tony Trehy said...

If you would like to know more about the Text Festival you can visit the website at