undyingking: (Default)
You've probably heard about the recent round of Arts Council England cuts in the regular funding they dish out. One group that has been particularly vocal about the effects is poetry publishing: three small publishers have had their funding removed altogether.

Now I must admit that I had no idea the govt was directly funding poetry publishers in the first place. And I don't think this is either necessary or desirable. It's not just poetry: I don't think they should be subsidizing any kind of publishing. This is not because I'm some sort of barbarous philistine... it just seems an inappropriate area of activity by the state.

I'm all in favour of the state encouraging arts participation and consumption. So funding of theatres, writers in residence, school visits, workshops, and so on: no problem. But publishing itself seems to me quite a different case. Anyone can publish their own poetry (or fiction, or whatever) practically for free on the internet. Why should the state be (effectively) paying for hard copies to be printed out and distributed?

I can see writers saying that publishers serve an important gatekeeping function -- their selection of a particular work for publication is an imprimatur of good quality, as against an internet that's full of all sorts of rubbish. I'm happy to believe that, but I don't think that poetry is such an important industry that it requires governmental oversight of this process. If people care enough about it, then sites will be established that sort out the good from the bad, as there are in a host of other comparable industries.

Another argument is that publishers help writers achieve a wider audience, with their marketing skills and distribution contacts, and hence increased sales that allow them to devote more time to writing. I'm sure that's true too. But again, I don't think the country will really be harmed if only those writers who sell commercially can afford to do it full-time, and those who don't sell have to restrict themselves to a hobby activity. That is, after all, how it was for the centuries prior to the establishment of the Arts Council: and I think a pretty reasonable quantity of good stuff somehow managed to get written.

Your thoughts?
undyingking: (Default)
You've probably heard about the recent round of Arts Council England cuts in the regular funding they dish out. One group that has been particularly vocal about the effects is poetry publishing: three small publishers have had their funding removed altogether.

Now I must admit that I had no idea the govt was directly funding poetry publishers in the first place. And I don't think this is either necessary or desirable. It's not just poetry: I don't think they should be subsidizing any kind of publishing. This is not because I'm some sort of barbarous philistine... it just seems an inappropriate area of activity by the state.

I'm all in favour of the state encouraging arts participation and consumption. So funding of theatres, writers in residence, school visits, workshops, and so on: no problem. But publishing itself seems to me quite a different case. Anyone can publish their own poetry (or fiction, or whatever) practically for free on the internet. Why should the state be (effectively) paying for hard copies to be printed out and distributed?

I can see writers saying that publishers serve an important gatekeeping function -- their selection of a particular work for publication is an imprimatur of good quality, as against an internet that's full of all sorts of rubbish. I'm happy to believe that, but I don't think that poetry is such an important industry that it requires governmental oversight of this process. If people care enough about it, then sites will be established that sort out the good from the bad, as there are in a host of other comparable industries.

Another argument is that publishers help writers achieve a wider audience, with their marketing skills and distribution contacts, and hence increased sales that allow them to devote more time to writing. I'm sure that's true too. But again, I don't think the country will really be harmed if only those writers who sell commercially can afford to do it full-time, and those who don't sell have to restrict themselves to a hobby activity. That is, after all, how it was for the centuries prior to the establishment of the Arts Council: and I think a pretty reasonable quantity of good stuff somehow managed to get written.

Your thoughts?
undyingking: (Default)
For once I'm actually going to present the results of one of these polls. You may remember a few days ago there was a post about Steve Smith, which asked about relative familiarity of cricket vs poetry. Well, this is what it came out like:
click to see )

(The paler colours represent more limited familiarity ("know a bit"). Strangely, there was no-one who "knew a bit" about both cricket and poetry (so-called "CP violation")1.)


1 Physicists' joke.
undyingking: (Default)
For once I'm actually going to present the results of one of these polls. You may remember a few days ago there was a post about Steve Smith, which asked about relative familiarity of cricket vs poetry. Well, this is what it came out like:
click to see )

(The paler colours represent more limited familiarity ("know a bit"). Strangely, there was no-one who "knew a bit" about both cricket and poetry (so-called "CP violation")1.)


1 Physicists' joke.

Smiffy

Jan. 8th, 2011 04:03 pm
undyingking: (Default)
Bit surprised that (afaics) no journalist has invoked "not waving bur drowning" in relation to haplessly flailing Australian all-rounder Steve Smith. I only found it raised in a couple of user-contributed comments (although none predating my own use on Facebook of a few weeks ago, hem hem). Yet I would have thought it was a headline-writer's dream. Perhaps my cultural referents are off, and there's no overlap to be expected? Or perhaps it was repeatedly considered and discarded?

[Poll #1665811]

Smiffy

Jan. 8th, 2011 04:03 pm
undyingking: (Default)
Bit surprised that (afaics) no journalist has invoked "not waving bur drowning" in relation to haplessly flailing Australian all-rounder Steve Smith. I only found it raised in a couple of user-contributed comments (although none predating my own use on Facebook of a few weeks ago, hem hem). Yet I would have thought it was a headline-writer's dream. Perhaps my cultural referents are off, and there's no overlap to be expected? Or perhaps it was repeatedly considered and discarded?

[Poll #1665811]
undyingking: (Default)
In my dream last night I was preparing to go to a party with a Pale Fire theme. I was uncomfortably aware of not having read the book for years, and not being up to speed on the busy world of its exegesis and explication. Also, I had no idea of what to wear as costume. My tentative plan was going to be to ask the other, more knowledgeable, guests "Are you a Shadeite or a non-Shadeite?"; and then nod in the right places, smile politely and sip my drink as they expounded their personal theories.

This is possibly the most culturally highbrow dream I've ever had – I am quite impressed with my unconscious (although I think the term for one who believes John Shade also wrote the Charles Kinbote material is actually "Shadean" rather than "Shadeite").

If you haven't read Pale Fire, by the way, you really must: it's brilliant, and also very funny. At least, I think so: but what do you think? 1 = bad, 10 = good.

[Poll #1664071]

And I should reread it, as that bit of the dream at least was true.
undyingking: (Default)
In my dream last night I was preparing to go to a party with a Pale Fire theme. I was uncomfortably aware of not having read the book for years, and not being up to speed on the busy world of its exegesis and explication. Also, I had no idea of what to wear as costume. My tentative plan was going to be to ask the other, more knowledgeable, guests "Are you a Shadeite or a non-Shadeite?"; and then nod in the right places, smile politely and sip my drink as they expounded their personal theories.

This is possibly the most culturally highbrow dream I've ever had – I am quite impressed with my unconscious (although I think the term for one who believes John Shade also wrote the Charles Kinbote material is actually "Shadean" rather than "Shadeite").

If you haven't read Pale Fire, by the way, you really must: it's brilliant, and also very funny. At least, I think so: but what do you think? 1 = bad, 10 = good.

[Poll #1664071]

And I should reread it, as that bit of the dream at least was true.
undyingking: (Default)
It's National Poetry Day! – so to celebrate, here's one of my favourite short poems, John Keats's 'On First Looking into Chapman's Homer', which he wrote when he was just 21:
Much have I travell'd in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
Round many western islands have I been
Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
That deep-browed Homer ruled as his demesne; 
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
He star'd at the Pacific — and all his men
Look'd at each other with a wild surmise —
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.
I like this poem because I think it conveys ably the sense of wonder a reader can feel on encountering a new literary experience. I've never read Chapman's translation of Homer myself, but there've been plenty of other things that have made me feel 'like some new planet swam into my ken'. Structurally, the poem is a great example of how to write a Petrarchan sonnet, and takes good advantage of the two parts of the form to make the point of its story. But most importantly, the closing image is to me a fantastically powerful one. (Arthur Ransome must have thought so too, as he uses it repeatedly in the Swallows and Amazons books.)

It is perhaps slightly unfortunate that it was actually Balboa, not Cortez, who led the first European expedition to look upon the Pacific. But we can forgive Keats that.

Finally, here's the same thing in the form of a limerick, even more concise:
There once was a Homer translation,
That showed me a novel sensation:
Like Cortez's men,
Standing on Darien,
I breathed the serene of Creation.
undyingking: (Default)
It's National Poetry Day! – so to celebrate, here's one of my favourite short poems, John Keats's 'On First Looking into Chapman's Homer', which he wrote when he was just 21:
Much have I travell'd in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
Round many western islands have I been
Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
That deep-browed Homer ruled as his demesne; 
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
He star'd at the Pacific — and all his men
Look'd at each other with a wild surmise —
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.
I like this poem because I think it conveys ably the sense of wonder a reader can feel on encountering a new literary experience. I've never read Chapman's translation of Homer myself, but there've been plenty of other things that have made me feel 'like some new planet swam into my ken'. Structurally, the poem is a great example of how to write a Petrarchan sonnet, and takes good advantage of the two parts of the form to make the point of its story. But most importantly, the closing image is to me a fantastically powerful one. (Arthur Ransome must have thought so too, as he uses it repeatedly in the Swallows and Amazons books.)

It is perhaps slightly unfortunate that it was actually Balboa, not Cortez, who led the first European expedition to look upon the Pacific. But we can forgive Keats that.

Finally, here's the same thing in the form of a limerick, even more concise:
There once was a Homer translation,
That showed me a novel sensation:
Like Cortez's men,
Standing on Darien,
I breathed the serene of Creation.
undyingking: (Default)
Today would have been John Milton's 400th birthday, if he was still alive. For quite some time he cast a huge shadow over English writing, being seen as the greatest figure after Shakespeare. I wonder if that's still true though -- I get the impression that apart from Philip Pullman, no-one really cares all that much these days. Time for a quick poll!

[Poll #1312192]

I would have asked about Blake's peculiar poem Milton and Peter Ackroyd's interesting novel Milton in America too, but one can have too much poll. Comment about them here below if you like.

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