Friday, July 16, 2010

Attitudes to poetry part one:salt

I have been researching the attitudes and assumptions that underwrite the production, publication reception and consumption of modern poetry. And the history of their development. It’s a lot more interesting than it sounds.

I was thinking that Salt’s 2009 “just one book” campaign would be a good example and so went to their website to see if I there were details I could reference.

So I was feeling guilty, not because I didn’t buy a book, but because I can’t help but wonder what the reaction would have been if any other business had tried the same line. Imagine the car producers in Coventry in the sixties and seventies: Humber, Roots, Triumph, Chrysler, Rover going public: ”We are going broke because no one wants the cars we make. SO if everyone would just buy one car we can stay in business and continue to make the cars you don’t want.”

Their disappearance was devastating: not just on the families coping with unemployment, but in the broader sense where schools stuttered, trying to sell the future to kids who knew there wasn’t one: the precinct with its shut and empty shops, even Woolies, shrinking and then finally going.

So feeling guilty for the cynicism, I went to the website, read this and gagged.

“Support the good work here. Don’t let Salt fall. If the recession is going to take things down, let it be motor manufacturers, let it be bad banks, let it be chains of fast food restaurants. We can lose a few of them, but we don't have enough small independent and daring publishers like Salt. I think I can be a little more forthright than Chris and say ‘Just six books’. Buy dozens why don’t you? It’s a great list. And apparently you will help the economy in many subtle ways too complicated for studious folk like us.” — GRYFF RHYS JONES


“We can lose a few of them”!!! Who does he speak for? Who are these “Studious folks like us”? Obviously not people who have jobs. Or intelligence despite their study if the last sentence is anything to go by

Then I thought maybe it was a joke. Someone poking fun at the whole thing. Irony.

But I’ve never been good at being “Outraged from Anywhere”.

I cut it and pasted it and put it in the file as a prime of example of what I’m studying.

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