The new toilet rolls my parents brought round (long story) have a bubble on them saying ‘longer length’. I thought poets didn’t work in marketing?
Anyway, anyway, anyway, I thought I’d have a stab at explaining why I called this blog permanent positions. So I’m listening to Louis Andriessen‘s ‘Hout’ as I write this. The link there is to a piece called ‘Worker’s Union’. And this is all pertinent because? Because for one, I trained as a composer – did a music degree at Cambridge graduating 2001. One of the things I want to do in the blog is understand how my journeys through different art-forms have been probably heading in the same direction (the direction of developing cultural thought?), though at different speeds. I wanted to show the (im)permanency of any (im)positions.
I remember being introduced to Andriessen’s music on a summer school for teenage composers back in, like, ’96, by a composer called Steve Martland. I remember getting a kick out of the driving energy of Andriessen, but not necessarily loving it overall. The politics certainly passed me by. I seem to have spent a lot of time avoiding explicit political expressions.
I read a poem to my collaborator Leiza McLeod yesterday and she said it sounded like the most political thing she’d heard me write. She made the comment in the context that I used to try to prevent the songs our band in Bristol (Cheap Bent Electrode) did from being too political because I wasn’t comfortable with it. She’s right though, what I’ve just written is a bit political – it even had ‘manifesto’ in the title. I think I’m starting to get a sense of my political compass, finally, and funnily enough, I’ve probably found it through poetry, which I might at one point naively have thought was less prone to politics. (Believe me, I don’t think that now – there are so many Marxist poets in my world!)
Of course, I’m now understanding that the politics might have been embedded in the music I was listening to back in 1996. Was I deaf to them? I think I was a bit. I probably thought of the Andriessen piece as a bit like a noisy crowd of football fans passing me in the street (I might be back-projecting). Well, I probably thought of it as ‘other’, just filtering it out. If someone asked me to pick out a piece of music I’d composed at uni, I’d probably say the best things were delicate little trio pieces with the ghost of a folk tradition in them. There are so many ways that I can now relate that to how I might have been understanding my own personal perspective at the time, though I suspect I really didn’t half understand what I was communicating.
Now that I’m perhaps more savvy on political implications of creative output, I’m interested to see how I take that knowledge back into my process/intentions.
The end of The Anthologist did itself proud by the way. The plot gave me what I needed remarkably neatly. I think Joe Dunthorne in his review in Psychologies got Louise Gluck mixed up with Louise Bogan, because Gluck wasn’t in it. There’s a Bogan line quoted in the book which goes:
At midnight tears
Run into your ears.
and that was me, happily, and well past midnight, as I read the last chapters. It’s a great book. And I take back what I said about Stephen Fry a bit, because this book doesn’t necessarily agree with the perspective of its narrator, and you can empathise with the character without needing to agree (which I don’t much) with his theories on poetry.