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BRITISH-IRISH-POETS  2005

BRITISH-IRISH-POETS 2005

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Subject:

Re: ethnic writers

From:

Geraldine Monk <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Geraldine Monk <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 25 Aug 2005 01:29:46 +0100

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Like Mairead I also like what you say here Kit.  I like it because what you
say is what I've been saying from the very start.  (Not being in the least
bit sarky Mairead, I'm genuinely glad that someone has put in a way you
can relate to).

Kit elucidates it and expands on my original point and comes to it from the
opposite angle.  The Arts Council is just not allowing a difference in
poetics nor a progression in poetics away from the 'sacred' printed page (as
you so rightly point out) or even that the ethnic young have, want and need
their own voice and outlets.  I've been arguing in all my emails as much for
'them' as for 'us'.  The Arts Council is doing us all a disservice. And not
giving a damn about the quality of any of our work is unforgivable in any
context.  Unless that context is Community Arts which is a different kettle
of fish. It's  is serving a
totally different need.  I think Peter made the point very succinctly.

But like Tim says any questioning at all on this subject and you are
immediately branded as a reactionary racist - that's not only very hurtful -
it also closes down any real progress that can be made (the exact opposite
of what Susan perceives as a closing down)
especially when  it is the Arts Council that are just paying lazy and
cynical lip-service to satisfy their quotas instead of a genuine searching 
for young talent. We all want that.

And I also agree with Tim that whereas Mairead and Susan probably reacted to
a situation that they really need to dwell in to fully understand it
Rupert's 'Can of
worms'  directed at  'us' and not the 'Art's Council' was very eye-opening
because
that's what the ACE depends on.  They know no one will dare to challenge
any aspect of their 'race'  policy no matter how incongruous or unproductive 
hence a pure waste of money
because they also know that our very own
poetry colleagues
are more than willing to condemn us.  Despite the years of unthanked and
unpaid dedication we have put into championing the poetry of others (and 
ourselves of course - we're not saints) some
would rather support the paid administrators who we sometimes ask for crumbs
than the unpaid ones (us) who actually write it, publish it, promote it, 
live it, breath
it, read it....and are passionate about it....

Why do we bother at all I sometimes ask.

Weary-weary-weary,
But cheered by some of the recent influx,

G.
(drunken dad, working class family, brought up in multicult Blackburn,
left school at 14, factory fodder, second boy-friend an Asian, moved to
exotico mulitcult Leeds,  now lives in multicult Sheffield, got a mature 
students 'drinkers degree' as we call a 2.2 here (or a Desmond) , still 
drinks and
swears like a trooper - still have a Lanky accent -  they take the piss out
of me all the time here in Tykeland -  I love it - I take the piss out of 
them - my sins - I'm blonde, blue-eyed, over 50 and English and I
think the ACE  has it's uses but can't half talk a load of bollocks and I 
don't like folks talking bollocks. Right - I'm orf.
.




> Been reading this discussion with interest.  I wonder if the problem is
> less
> one of funding bodies dealing in crude identity politics than an
> overemphasis on print publication.  Asking *publishers* to find poets to
> fill particular gaps (whether these are age-, gender-, race- or
> class-based)
> seems to me to be beginning at the wrong end of things, and likely to
> compound the problem of stereotyping in that publishers pressured to
> publish
> poets on the grounds of identity are bound, at least sometimes, to reach
> for
> the nearest available Identikit to fulfil a target -- especially if the
> publisher concerned  is ill-informed about the particular poetic
> demographic
> he or she's supposed to be promoting. (An analogy with a university
> access-widening programme that I was involved with as a student suggests
> itself: the programme was itself misconceived, in that it set out to widen
> access by "challenging" potential students' "misconceptions" about the
> institution.  In fact, those "misconceptions" by exasperated comprehensive
> school pupils and their teachers were often pretty accurate: the
> university
> could be (was not always) bloody racist and sexist and snobbish.) At the
> same time, from my experience, which is all I can really speak from,
> interest in non-print forms of poetic expression (the term "performance
> poetry" seems to need a lot of definition which I'm not sure I'm qualified
> to do, but I'm talking about hip-hop poetry, other kinds of collaborations
> with musicians, poetry whose medium is the CD or DVD rather than the book,
> poetry that "doesn't work on the page", highly politicised poetry, poetry
> which requires an audience to be present, heckling maybe, rather than
> privately and quietly reading, amongst other things) seems to be higher
> among non-white poets and non-white audiences than among their white
> counterparts.  That's not to say there are no black Bernsteins out there
> or
> that print and non-print poetries are ever mutually exclusive, it's just
> that the emphasis of this discussion seems to be on print as a desiderata,
> the idea that a printed collection is the sign of a poet having made it.
> What I was wondering, really, is whether that is just a feature of this
> discussion because it grew out of a publisher's tussle with a funding
> body,
> or whether arts funding as it applies to poetry is generally too
> print-focused. Or, more precisely, maybe, it pays a lot of lip-service to
> performance, but implicitly privileges print?
>
> Best,
>
> Kit
>

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