Thursday, 4 June 2009

I Scorn Glee

Giles Coren, holding his head up under the weight of his ill-considered opinions, or something

The Editors have just stumbled across this nasty, mean-minded, unintelligent, unfunny, uninformed 'article' by Giles Coren. It's obvious where we stand, but we'd like to hear from you too.


ajb said...

We are all, too, called Andrew, and we are all F!RST! to comment on this post. We all agree with my opinion and that lets us presume our personal ignorance is a culture-wide phenomenon.

For what it's worth, I think he's trying to be provocative and say things about the audience, rather than himself, and if you pushed him he'd say things about personae and satire and so on and point to the end where it suggests that people are buying tickets for famous comedians rather than poets. But, as satire, it seems to forget to be funny and the persona seems too close to the voice of his other articles for that escape route.

And then there's the factual problems - even if you grant that not caring about poetry is a widespread phenomenon now, am I supposed to accept that as a "single eternal truth"? Am I supposed to forget that the professor of poetry has often been a critic, or the experience of having read the printed lectures of Muldoon, Fenton and Peter Levi? (I really ought to read the Heaney ones, too.)

Spot the dodges: can you quote the Dunciad? Aw shucks, the intervention in contemporary literary politics hasn't dated well. If only he'd written other poems that gave us quotations as familiar as "a little learning is a dangerous thing", or "fools rush in where angels fear to tread". Or if Shelley's "Blithe Spirit!" had some ongoing life.

He also doesn't seem to realise the job involves fifteen hour-long lectures. If you don't count preparation time - as we clearly shouldn't for his article - that's an hourly rate of £460.

Anyone on this site, of course, isn't the intended audience of the hurrah-for-clubbable-philistinism of the piece.

Aditi Machado said...

You may be interested to know that the same news source ran this article ( just a day later. It's called "Why poetry is the hip new way to express yourself". It is, of course, equally bad in its own way.


Jane Holland said...

OMG, did Byron have a club foot? Seriously?

I agree with everything this person Giles Cohen [Who he? Ed.] says. No one cares a stuff about poetry. Which is both poetry's tragedy and its vehicle of sweet liberation from the chains of social and media expectation.

No one cares! No one cares! Go off into the wilderness for forty days and forty nights and write whatever the hell kind of poetry you like.

Nobody cares.

Jane Holland said...

Sorry, "Coren". Still haven't heard of him though.


Alan Baker said...

The mainstream media don't know what to make of poetry, and usually either ignore it, or hail it as the new rock and roll. They don't usually attach it outright like this. Of course, the authority of columnists like him has been seriously undermined by the blogosphere. I'm amazed he gets paid good money just for giving vent to his opinions.

The Editors said...

Thanks for the lucid comments everyone. Glad to see the Times being as consistent as ever.

Looks at least like Rod Liddle has some competition for being the most informed and delicately-opinioned writer on Murdoch's team.

I did actually think about saying exactly what you said, Jane, but then I sat back and thought about it, looked at all the books on my shelves that I actually love, and changed my mind.

It would be the poetry-writer in me that might subscribe to that view, out of frustration for the diminished audience. But the poetry-reader in me doesn't care.

(And on that note, I'm taking Tamsin McKendrick's 'Charismatic Megafauna' to bed with me.)


AidanSemmens said...

By a curious coincidence, "nasty, mean-minded, unintelligent, unfunny and uninformed" is a precise description of Giles Coren himself. Pity, as his old dad was - in print at least - exactly the opposite. You should see the emails Giles fires off to any Times sub who has the temerity to improve his copy. The man for whom the word "git" seems to have been coined.