Posted on | February 28, 2012 | No Comments
Half Time Report
Wow, it’s been a long time since I put up one of these. I have been busy writing poems rather than verbalising about the state of poetry. The Mundane Comedy has been going for six months. For those of you that haven’t clicked on the links that turn up daily in my twitter feed, The Mundane Comedy is my latest (and most probably final) foray into publishing a poem a day online. Last time, Sonnet Hack saw me writing a sonnet a day for a month, this time The Mundane Comedy sees me posting a poem a day in Terza Rima for a year. Some of these poems have been agonised over for the best part of a day at my desk, others have been dashed off on my phone and published while on a crowded, noisy bus. It shouldn’t really come as a surprise that the former doesn’t always produce better work than the latter.
I am enjoying the project, which is all that I can really try to do. There’s no way a poet with twice my talent (they are legion, don’t appear on too many shortlists) could write a good poem every day in a particular form. Good poems take time, not because they need to be worked on over months but rather because time is the only thing that can allow a poet to get an outsider’s perspective on their own work.
I enjoy seeing how quickly my own limitations become visible, how often I find myself treading the same old ground in the same worn out shoes. I enjoy the fact that technology has taken us from a world where a select few printing presses would place a select few volumes in a select few bookstores in a select few towns to a world where someone can thumb a few thoughts onto a touchscreen and make them visible to a potential, but never actual, audience of millions. I enjoy it when people read my poems, whether they like them or not, even on days when the hits barely rise above twenty. If twenty people have read the whole poem that I just posted then that’s a good day for me as a poet.
Most of all, I enjoy the way that the novelty aspect has worn out very quickly. It’s gone from “Look at me, I’m going to write a poem in terza rima EVERY DAY!!! Nobody’s done that before!” to something that feels as normal to any other daily task. That’s actually reflected in the page views too, there were a fair few spikes where the hits went into the hundreds daily, before crashing back down. Now they potter around the fifty per day mark, which feels like a fair amount of dedicated readers to me. I don’t think for a second that those earlier flurries of hits were the same. They were a whole bunch of people following a link, exclaiming “meh!” and going back to check their facebook. Going viral is for Cats That Look Like Hitler. So, if you’re among those fiftyish people, I humbly salute you. I hope the next six months keep things interesting so that you stick around.
…and the award for most middle brow film goes to…
Awards are for the middlebrow. It is for that which is seemingly cultured enough to atone for its popularity. I enjoyed The Artist for the performances and the dog. It was, in no way, a homage to the most experimental, groundbreaking and magical period in cinema history. Here’s a comment I made beneath a post about The Artist that I’ll share again here:
” I just thought that the Artist came across as a shallow pastiche rather than a loving homage, no matter how well intentioned. I say that out of love for silent cinema and not snobbery against the popular. The popularity of The Artist is all about its Oscar buzz elements, rather than any genuine public groundswell. No film is released in December and January without the expectation of hitting that middlebrow awards vein in the same way that political parties hope to occupy the middle ground during election time.
The Artist may have been stylistically distinct from the homogeneous stirring Oscar winners, but apart from the gimmicky pastiche element, it’s just another heartwarming Oscar nominee. Even Chaplin’s form of crowdpleasing sentimentality was far more believable, subversive and genuinely touching than the Artist. The story of the Artist is not about the redemption of a faded icon, if anything the unconvincing denoument works to try to redeem the fickle studio system and the myth of the redemptive power of fame that it looks to be critiqueing in the middle of the film.
The irony is that silent cinema was truly groundbreaking, it played with rules, expectations, narrative conventions and aesthetics far more than any other era of cinema. I would rather see a film honour these elements of silent cinema rather than simply parrot the shallower aspects of silent cinema’s appearance.”
People would like to see The Artist as important because it could re-engender a love among the general public for silent cinema, but that good work is already being done by Criterion, BFI and Eureka! in producing beautifully restored HD transitions of the greatest cinema ever made. You should check them out.
If you read all of this, I’ll tell you what film the above still is from.