Poets on film and the rest of my cultural week.

I need to get this off my chest. The good news is that YouTube are now carrying important film of Keston Sutherland, Jeremy Prynne and John Matthias. The bad news is that only the Sutherland is watchable / listenable. This is particularly disappointing for those of us who have been waiting to hear Prynne read ‘Streak~Willing~Entourage~Artesian’ (me anyway)- I know that he reads this because he repeats the title but the words and the phrasing are almost inaudible. This is doubly annoying because in the same film Sutherland gives an excellent reading of all of Stress Position which is perfectly audible throughout.

The Matthias is a performance of “Automystifstical Plaice” where the camera is too far away from the performers and the sound is indistinct. This again is unfortunate in that the work isn’t available (as far as I know) in print in the UK any more.

So, I’d like to make a plea to those people who produce these things. Producing this material in usable form is not technically difficult, there are now a vast array of inexpensive gizmos that are almost idiot proof. The reputation of serious poetry is in a bad way and is not helped by the display of poorly produced stuff on the web. In fact if it isn’t adequately produced it shouldn’t  be made available at all.

In complete contrast, I’ve spent the last ten days or so being spellbound by film of Vanessa Place reading at the Cross-Genre Festival which has been published on the openned site which is clear and effective. I’m a recent convert to Place’s stuff and the more I read the more impressed I become even though the piece published in the last CLR was a bit too knowing for my taste. She’s considered to be a conceptualist but I think there’s a bit more going on.

The major cultural event of the last seven days has been the publication of a book review by George Steiner in the TLS on a book about the ‘warfare’ between Derrida and Habermas by Pierre Bouretz. George surveys the well known history of Derrida’s reception and of the Habermas position and then throws Richard Rorty into the equation. The point that is made about Rorty is a pertinent point but also manages to misconstrue the finer points of the Rorty position. I’ve been reading Steiner for thirty five years and he still makes me smile with everything he does.

Listening to Richard Barrett, Laurence Crane, Brian Ferneyhough and a band called Mostly Others do the Killing who manage to be accomplished and funny at the same time. I first heard Crane on Radio 3 on Saturday and what he said about repetition led me to try it with verse- hence the previous post.

Also reading Caroline Bergvall, Ezra Pound, David Jones’ ‘The Sleeping Lord’  and trying to finish the last Diarmaid MacCulloch on the history of Christianity- without much success.

Have a new strategy for Satantango (7 hour long film)- have watched it straight through twice a couple of years ago and am now watching it in more manageable segments. It is much more eventful than I recall and a lot wordier… It’s almost as good as Tarr’s ‘Damnation’ which is really bleak but much much shorter.

Lastly, a resolution to sit down and read Browning’s Sordello and to stop re-reading ‘self portrait in a convex mirror’ and to recognise that trying to make my mind up about Ashbery is more than a little futile. Also to find the time to listen to Hill’s first lecture in his current job.

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