Sunday, October 11, 2009

Poetry and the sound of violence

Some wit once declared, 'Wagner's music is better than it sounds.' Well, if you've listened to any of Radio National's arts programs, you'd conclude that contemporary poetry was mostly about saying cliches in a dreamy voice over the sound of running rivers, contemporary music was mostly about people talking about 'the arts' (capital letters omitted by the speakers because they symbolise the patriarchy, or something), and all the other contemporary art stuff that couldn't be directly performed over the airwaves was about boring interviews on radios. Seriously, just on Friday I was forced to listen to half an interview on By Design where they were talking about an upcoming architecture exhibition in Queensland. I counted the cliches: 

- Slightly daffy curator talking in high, breathy voice about bricks and cement and planks. (Well, she didn't use the words 'bricks', 'cement' and 'planks', but that's what architecture boils down to.)

- Bored presenter talking in bored voice about a subject which clearly bored him. (The presenter was Alan Saunders, and - seriously - that dude was old when I wasn't. He's still doing their arts programs!) 

- A climax of boredom when Saunders, with no idea how to say something that sounds both intelligent, engaged, and interested in the subject, cops out by giving a lengthy Presentorial 'Hmmm', presumably accompanied by an authoritative nodding of the head. Radio National's arts programs can be measured by the amount of 'hmmms' each interview elicits from the presenter. 

That's art for you: important enough to be broadcast on national radio, and important enough to elicit knowing 'hmmms' from a presenter who is important (or at least old) enough to know better. 

It all seems a world away from the poetry slam I was at on Wednesday night, where people got drunk, laughed at penis jokes, and contestants got kicked by a Ninja. 

Don't tell that to Alan Saunders or the Radio National team, though, they might think that poetry is worse than it sounds. 

1 comment:

Paul said...

Contiuous stream of supercool from you, Tim T. What a delight.

Email: timhtrain - at -

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