Thursday, October 14, 2010

National Teatowel Live (for Dan Baker)

What kind of thing is a poem?

This is not, or not always, the almost wholly academic -- bordering on theological -- question it may at first appear to be.

Some years ago, researching an essay (which later appeared in an issue of Edinburgh Review) on contemporary American writers including Harry Mathews, Charles Bernstein and Harmony Korine, I came across an interesting fact: the very nature of a poem had recently changed - at least, in an industrial context. The longstanding Standard Industrial Classification System, a sort of Dewey system for the mapping and analysis of industry, had been superseded by the more up-to-date North American Industry Classification System: and in that shift, a curious (and generally overlooked) reappraisal had occurred. Previously, poetry had been considered to be a kind of manufacture, a subgroup of the publishing industry. Now, under NAICS, poetry was reclassified as a kind of information.

The development of NAICS had happened partly in response to the great boom in what was then being quite newly described as "the information economy". The trade in data had begun to supplant the trade in objects, and in that context, the way that cultural production was perceived inevitably changed to reflect that broader tendency in our industrial and/or post-industrial lives.

As someone who would struggle to think of a poem as any kind of "thing" in the first place -- I feel far less uncomfortable thinking not about poems but about "poetry" as a living practice, a process, with "poems" among its outputs and residues -- you might reasonably expect me to welcome this fundamental reimagining of the poem. Surely a poem shouldn't be thought of as a manufactured object, with all the attendant connotations of commodity and fixity, but rather as something more fluid, more disembodied, more able to occupy a whole range of sites and formats, virtual as well as real.

Certainly it is true that the variety of encounters it's now possible to have with poems would have made no sense to their authors even forty years ago. I might first meet a poem by, say, Philip Larkin in a second-hand Faber edition of one of his collections; or in a big paperback anthology of "The Nation's Favourite Poems"; or I might hear it read on the radio, or discussed on television by Alan Bennett or Stephen Fry; or I might be sent it in a multiply-forwarded email; or read it in a panel on a London tube train, alongside advertisements for vitamin supplements and travel insurance, or in a tabloid newspaper discarded on the same train. I might come across a Carol Ann Duffy poem when I'm given it as a Christmas gift, printed on a teatowel or a coffee mug (perhaps just the first stanza of it). In a world accurately described by NAICS, this is a wholly unproblematic reality. A poem is a data-set, and the data is the same whether I'm reading it in a Norton anthology designed for undergraduate students or on a fridge magnet at my auntie's house.

Do we know that this is not quite true? It doesn't feel right, does it? It's not quite the same poem in all these different contexts, even if the data is identical. Reading is not only an analytical act, it's also an interpretive one: not necessarily at the level of trying to "get" a poem, raiding its language-structures and its symbology for "deeper" meanings; but in terms of how we understand the nature of our encounter with the text. Partly this is about convention and habituation and these things change over time in accord with larger social trends; but it is not only stultified orthodoxy that tells me I may not be taken seriously as a student if I arrive at a tutorial clutching a set of six W.H. Auden teatowels instead of his Collected Poems.

When we treat poems as information rather than as manufactured product, they paradoxically become available for co-option by many more commodifying projects. We are invited to see only content, not form; even if the lineation of the poem as it appears on auntie's fridge ornament is retained with a scholarly accuracy, its form is not the same. A Shakespeare sonnet iced onto a birthday cake is not the same sonnet as you'd read on one page of an Oxford edition of his complete sonnets, even if it still has fourteen lines and the words are in the right order. There is some "thing" to read, but there are also plentiful signs, of greater or lesser clarity, about how we might read, and what we might read against, or in relation to. A poem printed inside a greeting card is telling us all kinds of things about how we might encounter it as readers; the same poem signals differently, is doing different work to different ends, in a hand-stitched, letterpressed chapbook, or on a dirty Kindle. Form is its own meaning, far above and beyond acting as a kind of container for information. Different poets may have different attitudes about whether or not they're happy for their work to be encountered on a t-shirt, or quoted in a self-help book, or spoken at the memorial service for a deceased member of the Royal Family, or used in an A-level exam paper, or borrowed for a sleevenote by Sting, but I think very few would view all of these circumstances as broadly alike and therefore basically irrelevant to careful consideration.

This is all by way of a slightly laborious preamble into a reflection on a conversation I half-wittingly initiated on Twitter earlier. Among the people I follow is Simon McBurney, who had tweeted to alert us to an upcoming opportunity to watch Complicite's A Disappearing Number at the cinema, broadcast thus under the auspices of National Theatre Live. This is an increasingly visible strategy, which I first became aware of a few years ago when a performance by the New York Metropolitan Opera was transmitted live to certain arthouse cinemas in the UK and presumably worldwide. I slightly winced then, but I don't really care about opera on the whole. I do care, if only for lingering sentimental reasons, about Complicite, and I felt really angry and nauseated by their decision to permit A Disappearing Number to be disseminated like this. In my crosspatch tweet I described the whole idea as "greedy, wrongheaded and treacherous", which prompted some equally forceful rebuttals. So perhaps I had better say something about what I meant, and why I feel so strongly about this.

First of all, I said "greedy" because it seems pretty clear to me that it's an arrangement driven by commercial rather than artistic imperatives. As it stands -- though surely this will change as the practice becomes increasingly common -- nobody makes theatre in order for it to be seen at the cinema, even if they themselves would rather be directing movies. Nobody who defended the practice on Twitter earlier was prepared to say it was any better than "second best", a sort of consolation prize for those who for whatever reason are unable to attend a theatre performance in person. In a way I suppose it's like a prosthetic auditorium: we're all used to sitting in the cheap seats in order to attend a performance and having to endure a steep angle or "restricted view"; in this extension of that idea, thousands of additional seats are put in, where the view is so totally and utterly restricted that you can see and hear nothing at all of the live event, but video and audio are relayed via a big screen (and speakers) instead. Tolerable, obviously, as an experience in itself, and perhaps if the experience is tolerable then it doesn't matter that the impetus for it is principally financial. Except that too is not just some negligible element of the context, it's part of the form itself: so, we may choose to accept or deplore that for what it is: a formal decision.

"Wrongheaded" precisely because it treats a piece of theatre as information, as streamable content. This information, it's supposed, can travel to us by any route and arrive intact and coherent in front of us for our reception. It's this that I fundamentally disagree with, more than anything. It is premised on the notion that the content of the work is its most important aspect -- not that the content is there to help us come into a productive relationship with the form --and that by extension it is worth sacrificing the form of the encounter in which the content is principally designed to be shared, in order for the content to reach more people and therefore make more money. Certainly there are plenty of precedents for this that, again, we gladly tolerate. Very few people can attend the finals of Wimbledon, for example, and the event is now staged with the televisual experience, rather than the experience of live attendance, presumably uppermost in the organisers' minds; I might envy those who manage to snap up centre court tickets, but my home viewing experience feels like "second best" only in a pretty theoretical sense. Lots of things are now staged principally in the interests of remote viewers rather than active participants, from political conventions to award ceremonies to acts of war. How we feel about all these different examples need not be too carefully teased out because actually the precedents are irrelevant. Our concern is quite specific: it has to do with the broadcasting of theatre events to audiences outside the theatre where they're taking place: and so we have to ask specific questions about the value of form in theatre.

My contention is that the cultural meaning of theatre is in its form, much more than in individual instances of its content. Personally, I am devoted to theatre as a site of cultural production exactly because of its formal and structural features; and furthermore, I observe that in those theatre works that I most admire and enjoy, the content of the work is ineluctably bound up with -- and helps us to apprehend our relationship to -- its form. There could hardly be a better example than The Author: but I'm thinking here not necessarily about obviously formally innovative and engaged pieces in particular, but the form of theatre more generally. The most significant and characteristic formal elements can be simply itemised, and each on its own sounds (unavoidably, I'm afraid) like a bit of a cliche. Like this:

We gather together in one place, the audience and the performers and other makers; we experience something together that is happening live and is vulnerable to all the unpredictable contingencies of live performance; and when the constructed encounter has been played out, it is gone. Those are the three basic tenets of theatre as presently distinct from other forms. 

Of course there is a fourth. These things matter. They are consequential in our lived experience. That is: they matter during the show, but they also matter before and after the show. They matter in the particular encounter that we have, in the course if the performance that we have gathered to see and make together; bu they matter also more widely, more constantly, in that we use them generally as ways of describing what theatre is and is not, and what therefore it might be in our lives, in the cultural and social situations in which we live. 

And there is, also of course, a fifth. It matters that these things matter. It matters to us, it's important. We want to know, we need to know, when we go to the theatre, that our presence in that space at that time matters, is of consequence. We want to know that if a cat wanders onto the stage, it will be acknowledged, just as if furious pelicans invaded the auditorium, it would have repercussions for the continuance of the performance. If we shout obscenities they will be heard by the actors. If our phone goes off it will be heard, and Richard Griffiths will remonstrate with us picturesquely. It matters to our reading of the performance, and of the situation in which it unfolds, that the encounter in which we're participating is ephemeral and not precisely repeatable -- is not, in other words, an object. Above all, it matters that theatre can have a strong claim to an ethical basis for its activity, simply by dint of its representing a social space that has no fundamental obligation to replicating the power relations that exist outside that space. Those basic elements come together to create a space where we can really see and hear each other, and where that process of seeing and hearing is shaped not only by the content of the work we came to pay attention to, but also by the form that holds us together in its image.

To broadcast a theatre performance to a cinema audience, therefore, is not 'second best': it proposes a fundamentally and wholly different relationship between audience and work, and to be more precise, a fundamentally and wholly antitheatrical one. Theatricality inheres in form and structure, not in content. Content is endlessly translatable (for all that it changes meaning, at least fractionally, with every crossing of a formal gap), but form is distinct. None of the tenets of theatre hold up for an audience in a cinema. The actors do not know and anyway cannot functionally care that the audience is there; the spectators cannot contribute to or participate in any way in the making of the live event -- even their attention on it does not matter, except in so far as they may by various means cause disturbance to their neighbours in the cinema auditorium; their experience is of an object over which they have no control and in relation to which they have no responsibility. People in the Twitmilieu today were saying that cinema broadcasts were to be welcomed because they increase access: but, access to what? Not access to theatre, certainly. Theatre is a set of formal and structural arrangements which are wholly and entirely absent from the broadcast experience. Access, perhaps, then, I suppose, at a stretch, not to theatre, but to an advert for theatre. But a really stupid, deceitful advert, a thoroughly dishonest representation of what theatre is, what it means as a kind of social act. Everything that can be represented by the broadcast package is everything theatre is actually, finally, distinctively not.

So, no, it's not quite theatre, agree my tweeting interlocutors, and no one says it is; it's different, but it's OK. What's happening is a blurring of formal distinctions, and that blurring is exciting and productive and not to be feared. Well, sure, I have a modicum of sympathy for that. Despite all of the foregoing, I don't really like the border policemen who patrol the boundaries of artforms and insist that such-and-such "isn't theatre" or "isn't poetry" or whatever. Now more than ever, the aesthetic life of theatre is one of intense and restless hybridity, of borrowings and cross-pollinations. But to suggest that its formal basis might be similarly blurred is to radically reduce the capacity of theatre to be expressive of a particular ethical programme: the fecundity of the blur is not only value-neutral, it's inimical to precision: and it is this effect that I'm thinking about when I call this reach into broadcasting "treacherous". Complicite's embracing of this means of distributing their work (or, rather, a flat effigy of their work) is not simply a matter for them and their own business model and artistic priorities; it is a betrayal of the sector out of which they emerged, because it endorses the adaptation of theatre practice to market imperatives, not at the periphery where most such compromises are struck (in accepting corporate sponsorship, for example, or selling merchandise), but at the heart of the formal promise that theatre distinctively makes. It has a particularly Blairite quality, it seems to me: an eagerness to reach the widest possible catchment by eliminating, trading away, precisely those elements that defined the message you were entrusted with communicating in the first place. Complicite have long been on this journey, and in a way their work is now in some respects for the remote cinema audience rather more than for the invested theatre attendee. I saw A Disappearing Number from the high-up cheap seats in the Barbican, a point-of-view from which most of its composite images simply didn't read coherently, because they're targeted at those sitting in the expensive central stalls seats; presumably the cinema broadcasts are taken from cameras better placed to see the action than those of us who value theatre but who aren't sufficiently valued by the markets in which we participate to have sufficient disposable income to pay top whack at the Barbican. This plus the heavy reliance on video projection in the content and aesthetic of A Disappearing Number (which dismays me emphatically not because of the absorption of new technologies into the working language, but because of the timecoding this apparatus imposes on the operation of the show and the consequent reduction in the latitudes of its liveness) makes me pretty certain that Simon McBurney has little interest any more in any work-surface other than the screen: which leaves us a sadly long way stranded from the stage language of The Street of Crocodiles, the show from which most of my sense of theatre was initially derived. Complicite, like Robert Wilson, say, signal nothing more now, at least in this case, than a theatre of conspicuous money, power and control. Ditto most West End product, of course, which at least has few ulterior pretences; ditto the antitheatrical performance work of someone like Marina Abramovic: an unusual figure to file alongside the likes of Michael Ball, perhaps, or the cast of Les Mis, but in all of these cases there is an imposition of severe constraint on the relational and contingent aspects of theatre form, in favour of a quite contrary focus on 'performance': on a strenuous, possibly virtuosic, close fidelity to a particular object-like target or template, rather than to the "live" event.

Theatre needs you to be present, and it needs you to examine your own presence, or at least to be actively present, whatever that might mean in any particular instance. That need may often be impossible to fulfil, but that doesn't mean it's the wrong need, or that the need should be adjusted downwards until it's less impossible for more people. Theatre -- as opposed to a perfectly valid outreach discourse around theatre -- is for those who show up; it is not at the craven service of those who don't opt in. Granted, it is certainly true that there are a great many people who cannot show up: who cannot, for example, go to see A Disappearing Number in the theatre, because they live far away from where it's playing, and logistically and financially it's therefore out of reach. And there are all sorts of cool things I'm missing this autumn because I'm away on tour, so I'm not entirely mired in a privileged Londoner's worldview in saying what follows. The answer to access problems associated with geographical remoteness is not cinema broadcasts, it's investment in grassroots theatre-making in those communities, and strengthened support for regional touring networks; the answer to access problems associated with financial hardship -- indeed most access problems, period -- is to minimise economic barriers to entry, not to charge a bit less for access to something so compromised as to be meaningless in theatre terms. Why, in the name of access and audience development, show presently disconnected audiences misleading adverts for theatre experiences that we've already established they're circumstantially unable to participate in anyway? It's -- structurally -- a bit like that retina-burning episode when Baroness Chalker, the then Minister for Overseas Development, visited a Kurdish refugee camp in 1991 and was filmed handing out branded chocolate bars -- Milky Ways, wasn't it? -- to the starving kids. These chocolate bars were food, weren't they?, she said, and anyway, they'd been donated so it was appropriate to distribute them. Nobody on her team seemed to have questioned what certainly appeared to incredulous observers to be a pretty dire failure to connect the content of the stunt with the formal qualities of its context.

The "Live" in National Theatre Live is an absolute cheat, it seems to me, somewhere between a sleight-of-hand manoeuvre and a shallow wank fantasy. The "liveness" that we bang on about as makers actually has very little to do with, for example, the liveness of a live tv broadcast, where you're aware that the image you see is being directly relayed from the event in question. That sense of liveness is an incredibly meagre one compared with the complex of elements and sensations and apprehensions that constitute an alert theatre audience's experience of what liveness means with regard to their own individual and communal presence and the passage of time that underscores their shifting relations with a non-commodity artwork. The problem is, most "theatre", disastrously, doesn't know what to do with that liveness either. The idea of broadcasting theatre into cinemas ought to return what my old ZX Spectrum would have reported as a "syntax error", but it mostly doesn't. Ultimately, the problem isn't theatre being cynically transmogrified into an essentially formless information set for broadcasting on whatever platform, be it cinema or YouTube or teatowel; the problem is, if it can be subjected to that manner of adaptation, it was never really theatre to begin with.

An interesting response to this post from John Wyver of Illuminations (who make arts films) over here.


Jonny Liron said...


What oft was thought but ne'er so well expressed

This post is made from radically possible love



Jonny Liron said...

Actually, what seldom is thought and ne'er so well expressed

Alison Croggon said...


TS said...


I want to say more but it'll wait.

a smith said...

Boom! Indeed.
A blast of air.
My heart and head and day lifts.

Jonathan Petherbridge said...

Just started reading Theatre and Feeling, where Erin Hurley starts by saying audiences go to the theatre to be moved. I think this is too passive a word - it makes the audience sound like some sort of rock waiting to be shoved by the actors. We go partly to be present with the rest of the audience who are there - to spend time giving shared attention and the feeling is sometimes one of being "ennobled" - but that't not the right word.

And this happens in a range of settings and with a range of performers and attenders. If it's looping it's theatre.

Jonathan Petherbridge

Aliki Chapple said...

I am moved and enheartened; this beautifully articulates something I've been beating my head against for months. Thank you.

Chris Goode said...

Jonny, Alison, Tass, andy: Ta v much!

Aliki Chapple: welcome & thanks!

Jonathan Petherbridge: Thanks, & good to see you here -- I'm a great admirer of your own thinking around what audiences do and need and deserve. With regard to audiences being moved, my touchstone -- which I think gets nearer your mark than Hurley does -- is Paul Goodman's brilliant statement that he wanted his audience to be moved not so much by what they're seeing on stage but more by what they are doing, by being an audience.

susanna said...

If I ever study anything again, I will now dare myself to turn up with a bunch of teatowels... I have some I can think of right away without even looking in the drawer suitable for seminars on art, theology, botany.

Being of an argumentative disposition, I'm tempted to mention that my memory of theatre, poetry, music, forgets the circumstances of lodgment. 'The Author' has various settings now in my mind, the first that springs up being a rather bleak women's refuge... Love ya! XX

Ian Shuttleworth said...

You begin by querying definitions of "poetry", but you're not consistent in that you don't also query definitions of "information". The cybernetic definition thereof is the amount of unpredictability in a message. By those standards, say, a Daily Mail theatre review is an almost total information vacuum, but decent poetry would be among the most information-dense media extant. Your reasoning seems to be based on an assumption that information has been - er, by definition - commodified. Which - er (slight return) - I don't buy.

Chris Goode said...

Sue: Thank you! Yes, I'm sure the 'circumstances of lodgment' -- what a toothsome phrase -- may be forgotten; but I suspect they shape your experience at the time in a way that closely, if immeasurably, informs your, what shall we call it, your onward journey...

Ian: Fair cop, though the essay I refer to is much more closely engaged with the cybernetic uses of info vs noise -- I just didn't want to get much into it here because, as you've probably seen here before, once I get on to artistic applications of cybernetics I'm lost for days, and I was merely trying to sketch a frame through which to invite you to view the real stuff. I do though think that the susceptibility of information to commodity uses is very obviously a problem, and the political indices of noise-as-resistance have been crucially important in my theatre thinking.

Let's have a pint some time and talk about Norbert Weiner. ...At least I think that's what I said. xx

harryg said...

Chris -

being but a poor versifier (did I quite mean that?) I got a bit lost after the splendid intro.; but there's a lot of meat - sorry, Quorn - therein. I know book history is, in the sexiness stakes, somewhere below Vince Cable, but it does have some interesting things to say about the crucial nature of the materiality of the artefact; and, if books are around long enough, even sees them as occupying process (the addition of marginalia, glosses, etc., which after a century or two stop being 'defacing' and start being 'interfacing'. Not sure any of this helps in thinking about theatre; but books are weirder than you might think, imho.

simon kane said...


Now why is it that I don't immediately feel this same enervating outrage when I consider the televising of theatre? Would you agree? (Not that that happens much nowadays.) Maybe television's still more of a miracle to me than the cinema. Maybe I like having an audience on my television. Maybe television is so obviously different a medium from theatre that its reassignment seems less a waste of time. Just thoughts.

But this is unimpeachably argued stuff, Chris. I'm so sorry Comlpicite did this.


Chris Goode said...

Simon: It's a good point, and I do agree, and for me it's about scale, I think. This is nearly Tenet #6. (I should start writing these down.) An important talisman, as it were, of how we have a sense that we are all occupying the same room, even when we're looking through a pros arch window that in some ways might seem to mimic the function of a screen, is that the people on stage are the same size as us. We could walk down the aisle and climb on to the stage and be in the midst of the action and there wouldn't be any weird Mike Teevee perspective issues as we crossed the boundary. Obviously, as that last ref suggests, television is smaller than human scale but we know how to relate to human beings and images that are smaller than us. To see bigger-than-lifesize humans -- and especially if we have to look upwards to see them, as many people in a cinema auditorium will have to -- is a strong signal of discontinuousness: "they" may look like us but they're definitely not us, and we can't be among them. Humans that are bigger than us are generally telling us what to do, what to think, what to buy. I don't know how much these NT broadcasts use the apparatus of film syntax, I don't know how much they use close-ups and so on, but obviously those would only exacerbate the sense of misscale.

I do remember thinking when I saw A Disappearing Number at the Barbican how small all the actors seemed. Compared with, say, Nic Green's Trilogy, on the same stage, which could hardly have been more obviously populated by human-sized people -- and obviously at the end lots of people did climb up on stage from the auditorium. So maybe A Disappearing Number really was made with cinema broadcast in mind, consciously or otherwise. Who knows.

Gulliver Bell said...

I worked for a time in the 2000s as Complicite's administrator, and I'm sorry to say that "greedy, wrongheaded and treacherous" are words I'd readily use to describe my experience of the "high command" at that organisation.

I'd been astounded in the 90s by "Street of Crocodiles" and "Lucie Cabrol", but I'm afraid working with the organisation that created them constituted a massive disappointment. What's the point in creating great art if you do so by treating people appalingly badly? Surely in this instance the ends don't justify the means?

I absolutely whole-heartedly agree with the sentiments you express in this piece. Could I just ask about one sentence - "We gather together in one place, the audience and the performers and other makers"; would you regard "other makers" who are attending a performance that they weren't involved in part of "the audience", rather than a separate entity?

Gulliver Bell

Chris Goode said...

Gulliver Bell: Thanks so much for your comment and for sharing your insights. There is little as depressing as a company founded in devising practice who lose sight of, or can't extend throughout their organization, the ethos that makes that kind of work -- at its best -- so compelling and productive.

You rightly pick me up on a clumsy sentence: I meant "performers and other makers" to be read together, simply to indicate that, for example, I was thinking about technicians too, crew, all the people whose work 'makes' the event, and who may be much less visible in the room than the actors are. The question of whether "other makers", i.e. peers, should be considered as a distinct subset of the audience, is a fascinating one. I sort of hope not. I think the roles of people in the room are actually a place where blurriness is really positive. I become more and more aware (perhaps because of the work I'm doing on The Author) of how much the performers in a piece are the audience's audience. We are all audience: we are all hearing what's going on. (Actually, too often, some of us aren't -- something I'd like to expunge from theatre is the operation of lx and sound from, sometimes, an entirely insulated room, inside which it's impossible to feel the show as it unfolds; -- where, aside from a tiny inadequate relay, one has to rely entirely on a voice in an earpiece saying 'Go'. Horrid. There should be no barriers to tech operators sitting in the auditorium, it's always and only positive.)

Sorry, lots of digressing there. Thanks again for stopping by. Cx

Karl James - The Dialogue Project said...

Important and beautifully expressed thoughts. Thank you Chris. I'm thinking harder... With your help.

Silver Whimsy said...

Just compelled to respond to your utterly brilliant, lucid, extraordinary piece. Seriously awed that you can put all that into words in a way that makes me want to go to Speaker's Corner and read out your blog/give it to the kids at school in their oh-so-dull drama lessons and get them to engage with the very matter, the very essence of it all... Tremendousness, makes my heart swell and my mind soar. x x

Chris Goode said...

Karl: Special hugs to you my friend.

Silver Whimsy: Wow. That's a very beautiful and touching comment. Thank you so much for taking the trouble to write.

Jon said...

What Silver Whimsy said.

Explosions in the sky.

Shit, Chris. This is one of the most significant things you've ever written...

Anonymous said...

I just got out of bed to write a response to this blog but then realised on re reading you had all my points wrapped up. Inspiring stuff!

The only thing is... I'm a bit worried that the loyalty of performance makers to the notion of the liveness of their art can sometimes mean we don't engage fully in the business of documenting creatively, or finding playful, pertinent means of translating our work for other media- which is exactly the attitude that can lead to the kind of unimaginative, unsympathetic representation that you're discussing here (because it hasn't, it seems, been fully thought through from an artistic perspective). Accepting that in the 21st century our theatre will almost inevitably appear in some form that we didn't intend it to (and will of course in the process cease to be theatre), could we open ourselves up a little bit more to the idea that there might be something interesting in the gap between the live and the recording/ representation?

Anyway, best off to bed again on that thought, night y'all!

Anonymous said...

Oh yes and PS the screening does sound DREADFUL by the way! x

Carole-Anne Upton said...

I loved this. Still do, in fact. I'm with Ian on the critique of the poetry analogy but then I also share what I perceive to be your disdain for the reductive taxonomy of poetry as dataset. As a provocation it's absolutely brilliant and a great starter to the very satisfying mains. Thank you!