Friday 24 November 2017

Are Rappers . . . Secret Oulipians?

As it's been getting darker and colder over the last few weeks, and the whole premise of leaving the house looks like a scam designed to entrap the dimmest and most ingenuous of suckers, I've been getting quietly addicted to the Vox Pop channel on Youtube, which deals with musical matters of a technical nature in a fun and informative way.  All of the micro-essays contained within are worth your time, but the video below - on rhyme in hip-hop - remains the stand-out, as it suggests an unexpected point of comparison between the most dextrous language-centred experimental formalists of the late 20th century, and the Oulipo.  (See what I did there?)  Honestly, it's really interesting viewing.  Oh, and a brief warning: for any poets who've not heard Kendrick Lamar's 'Rigormortis' before, be warned: it will most likely make you question the value of the entirety of your paltry literary oeuvre, and most if not all life-choices attendant thereon.  But I think an existential doom-spiral's a price worth paying.  Enjoy! 

S @ G&P

Wednesday 22 November 2017

Simon Turner - "A Lean Year", or "Why John Burnside's Thoughts on Contemporary Poetry are Almost Irredeemably Beef-Witted & Unwarranted"

Okay, so to give Burnside his due, his old man whingeing about the state of contemporary poetry (which you can read here, three entries down after Nicola Sturgeon and Ed Balls) is at variance with the usual script of "There's far too much poetry being published these days!", which we normally have to put up with from the embattled old guard.  But the sentiment underpinning his intervention - that the gatekeepers have effectively been sleeping on the job, letting the barbarians through - remains the same.  As many have pointed out on the twittersphere - is that the right term now? - 2017 has been something of a bumper year for poetry, particularly from smaller independent presses.  I, for one, have more than enough new poetry on my 'to read' list to last me at least for the next decade, and even then I feel like I've barely scratched the surface of what's been published this year.  To describe it as 'lean' suggests either astonishing ignorance of the plethora that's available or, more likely, it's just the passive-aggressive growling of wounded supremacy.  Either way, it's neither helpful nor required.  Given that there are plenty of other contributors to the Staggers' end of year list who pretty comprehensively undercut Burnside's untenable claim - nice to see Andrew Marr giving Eyewear a heads-up, for example, whilst Neel Mukherjee's given me a good idea for a stocking-filler in the form of Brian Blanchfield's essays (because you can never have too many essays in your house) - I'd recommend you look to the positive in this instance. 
Anyway, that's more than enough time spent on a very silly outburst from a very boring poet.  Time to listen to some more Public Enemy and get really stuck into Fiends Fell from Tom Pickard.  TTFN!