Tuesday, July 28, 2009
I believe part of the fault lies with our publicity. We seem to rely a little too much on word of mouth dissemination of information. I get e-mails that "our" website carries out of date information. (We have no website; somone has published the info on theirs and not updated it.) I have had queries, replied to them, and then nothing follows.
Another member of the committee brought up the fact that most small presses, the ones that publish poetry, are experiencing difficulties due to the current economic downturn. Some have stopped publishing, many have cut down on the number of titles they produce.
I believe it's probably a combination of both. Next year, if the Acorn-Plantos Award is to remain viable, a more vigorous approach to soliciting entries must be undertaken. Let's hope the economy has strengthened and we are healthy and free to expend some energy on promotion.
I take some comfort in the fact that all disciplines of the arts are suffering. In uncertain economic times it seems the arts are the most vulnerable. It is difficult to explain truth and beauty to an empty stomach and a burdened mind.
Friday, July 24, 2009
It was well done on an interesting premise, an underlying theme of selling out one's art for one's own survival/well-being. Dante has survived into this time in the company of Petrarch's inspiration "Laura" who has taken care of him through the centuries. Dante may have lost his own inspiration, his Beatrice, but his reputation and that of his masterpiece continue.
Dante is useless, unable to even try to get a job to sustain the two. To make ends meet and unknown to Dante, Laura has been selling quotes from his poems as advertising jingles but the producers want fresh materials. Dante refuses to write. Then a lucrative offer from a movie production company to film the Divine Comedy, promises to become the answer to their problems. What's more, the power behind that offer is the incarnation of his beloved Beatrice, his inspiration all those centuries ago. Now he can have his cake and eat it too, so to speak; have his poetry spread through the world and his beloved Beatrice by his side.
All Beatrice wants is that he sign over all rights to his work. To make it more palatible for her audience she needs to make some changes, changes Dante did not envision in the original. So. Does Dante sell out for money and basking in the glow of his beloved or hold his art close and continue to try to exist under harsh circumstances but with his masterpiece and reputation intact?
Important questions for any artist. If your muse deserts you, can you recognise her should she return? Would she be the same, treat you as she did before?
How much should you let others influence or even shape your art? If it is produced for a commercial purpose, is it art?
Every painter, writer, sculptor, photographer, whatever the medium of expression faces this question at one time or another. And sometimes our answers do not remain constant.
We have to live with and by our decisions.
Monday, July 20, 2009
Sunday, July 19, 2009
It had an interesting premise: three spoken word artists (poets) do a last minute impromptu rehearsal for a performance. They act as a troupe and as individuals, and the audience is left to consider what is "act" and what is the characters' unplanned disclosure, what is being rehearsed and what is supposedly not. But about the poetry.
It was the common spoken word genre, at times heavy on rhyme, often rhythm depended on that rhyme, and very little else that establishes language as poetry: the use of metaphor or simile, images to portray meaning that is not immediate. Any emotion or feeling was direct and in your face; all to keep the piece moving. Any contemplation would have to be done elsewhere later.
Still, with all my reservations about spoken word poetry, language, form, and meaning, I found the frantic pacing that is the nature if this type of presentation worked well. It communicated the characters as well as the concerns behind its topic. Thank you, Dream Chasers.
The second performance I went to because it was so highly recomended. "Head First" by the Toronto all-women troupe Femmes du Feu had won a main stream staging at the Toronto Fringe Festival and would only be here for four of the ten days. They had also won an audience choice at the London Fringe and so became a "must-see."
And what has this to do with poetry? There is no better explanation of how expression in poetry should be understood. Rhythm and flow. Brilliance to capture the attention, colour to hold it. The meaning suggested by the movements of the dance, by the phrases of the poetry.