Thursday, 16 November 2006


Great Works Update 15/11/06 v 7.01

Updating of information on Giles Goodland, Paul Holman, Richard Makin & James Wilkes


Sunday, 12 November 2006


Welcome Speech

"Welcome to this blog! The title comes from a postcard I picked up at a Small Press Fair, which has on it the text I have used as this blog's title. Thank you, Jennifer Winters, for the phrase, from a postcard produced as part of the LLAW event curated by Brigit Mc Leer at the Bookartbookshop.

"The starting point for this blog is the plan for a website detailed in the very first post below, which I made publish earlier this year, to a mainly supportive response. The point of the blog is essentially twofold:

"So, present state of play as far as I am concerned is not good. This is a reflection of my present circumstances rather than the chronic marginality of contemporary innovative British poetry. Two factors:

"I left a truly dreadful negotiating meeting early on Thursday, in which a total breakdown and a formal state of dispute looked imminent, for the Launch Event for the wonderful Archive of the Now site. Thank you again Andrea Brady! A gathering of usual suspects, this time in an art locale (Jerwood Space in Southwark). Always humiliating to consider the sheer amount of money available for the art world.

"Fine, a good event, lost of people, across a range of generations and subgroups. Good readings as part of it — very successful. I was most struck by a return to form by John James — I had been disappointed by the later poems in the Collected Poems, but was very impressed by the solid force and power in the recent poems he read that night — and by Ian Hunt, a writer new to me, whose reading and texts impress me as, well, damned good. He's OK, as they'd say in a Howard Hawks film.

"What I did consider more negatively as I surveyed the gathered elect of contemporary innovative British poetry was the notion of who would be needed to get this projected website of mine off the ground and into a functioning locus within both real and webspace. I'm not sure it can be me is the problem. Wrong generation — too removed from the cool & the clever who are now doing the running, and never managed to become a part of the great and the good either. Just not a made man. I think my plan is good — but it wouldn't work if I tried to do it.

"Could be the stress of life at present is triggering my frequent mild depression & paranoia — it had been a truly shitty meeting earlier that day. Could be I had an insight. Hence this blog, where I'll try and work some of this out.

"Do post comments, or email me with any responses.

"I've also sworn a mighty oath to post something at least once a week. Maybe a poem, maybe a rumination or proposal, maybe whatever."

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Inital Proposal for Website Acting as Information Source for Contemporay Innovative British Poetry

I have been mulling over for while a specific proposal, which I would be very interested in public response to. It is to do with trying to extend the readership of contemporary innovative British poetry.

I take it as fundamental that this poetry (or poetries, probably more accurately) is an art which deserves as wide an audience as possible – like other forms of contemporary innovative art, many of which have a far more extensive exposure in the mainstream media and a wide following. At present, compared with other contemporary art forms, contemporary British innovative poetry has a quite restricted audience. There are some signs of an increase in this readership recently (increased attendance at readings, reviews in mainstream media etc). But it plainly has a small public presence, and one that often presents it as a minor and quirky activity (cut to footage of Jeremy Prynne on his bicycle).

I think it important therefore to try and extend the readership for this poetry. Given the state of the British booktrade, the Internet is the only place for this. This would also match with contemporary expectations about where to obtain information. I plan the following twofold strategy:

 (1) To set up a website to act as an entry point into contemporary (and recent) British innovative poetry, through its collection of information and links to further information etc. This would need to be established with the co-operation of this poetry's publishers, and of those brave souls who organise readings and other events. It would not be a website aimed at rivalling any existing sites, but simply as a clearly identifiable first port of call, to send off those interested to other sites.

It would provide links to these websites (whether containing poetry texts, details of publishing activity, or other information), notification of new and forthcoming publications, and of readings and other events. (At present the main method of publicity for such events tends to be direct emails and postings on newslists – preaching to the converted) A blog format with newsfeed would be the best way to present news events like readings etc and new publications. There should be a small selection of work (or possibly links to work online elsewhere?), as text, soundfile or whatever – but just as taster. I would also want some background information to give a context for British innovative poetry since the 1960s. The site will need a relatively self-explanatory and memorable name, to use as its URL. I wouldn't see it as selling books – but as referring the interested directly to the publishers.

The website should be set up and functioning before the next step is taken – so that there is sufficient on the site to keep its audience. I would aim to have done this by the end of this year.

(2) The primary audience for this site would not be those who already know about this writing (though I hope it would be found of some use), nor indeed any academic or institutionally educational community, as there are already excellent academic sites established. It would be that elusive specimen, the interested reader – someone saying, "What's going on here? I'd like to read some more and find out some more. How can I follow up that review in The Guardian? Are there any events I could encounter this stuff at?" Of course, no one may ever say that (and it's not very convincing dialogue). But if people are not given easier access to this writing, they will never be in a position to even reject it.

The corollary of this position is therefore, to make sure this site is actively marketed to a wide range of people, as wide as possible. Whereas the costs involved in a website are nominal, this will need money, which will entail Arts Council grant applications, possibly sponsorship etc. It will be very advantageous in this to work with existing institutions with a wide remit, with the Poetry Library, the Poetry Society and the British Library coming to mind at first.

The kinds of marketing activities that could be engaged in could be:
  • advertising in selected mainstream media (eg Guardian Review),

  • leaflets & enclosures with mailings from relevant organisations

  • or in poetry or, indeed, art or music etc, publications,

  • and also available at a range of sites, such as art and music spaces.

  • A launch event to give a focus for initial publicity and media coverage would be very useful.

  • Plus of course links to suitable websites etc (including educational sites).

I would hope to apply for funding as soon as the site exists, for the marketing event to occur early next summer.


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