Monday, July 18, 2011

Emilie Zoey Baker's Masterpoet

Last month, the fantastic Melbourne poet, Emilie Zoey Baker, was interviewed in the Fairfax press by Michael Short. Michael said:
POETRY can be one of the simplest, most malleable forms of writing. It is accessible art, for composer and consumer alike.
Following this theme, Emilie is quoted:
I would love [poetry] to be on prime-time television. It is such a fantastic way to get it into people's lounge rooms. Imagine having your soul unravelled like a ribbon at 7.30 on Thursday night, rather than learning the contents of Matt Preston's stomach. Imagine young people's voices, having that explode into people's lounge rooms. That would be magnificent
So you think you can rhyme or Masterpoet.

I am not so sure about this. I love how poetry reaches into people's minds and twists their emotions and thoughts into little knots, beautiful bows and sturdy plaits. But I am not sure the same people who watch Dating in the Dark are ready for prime time live slam.

Regardless, my doubts were bland compared to the reaction by Christopher Bantick in The Australian. His opinion rambles a little, but he starts by saying:
...poetry will not regain its place in the national conscience by our reducing it to a public mosh pit
Those who know what great poetry is covet its place in the culture. Pop poems may pull the punters to pubs, but that's all.
What needs to be grasped is that not all poetry has the capacity to move us. Great poetry does.
I think that is crap. Firstly, who decides what 'great' poetry is? Secondly, while I agree there is a wide range in the quality of poetry, there is also a place for accessible poetry that has an immediate impact. Poetry that doesn't require a PhD in classics and fourteen hours of reading and rereading in a leather-bound chair before we are 'moved'.

Bantick goes on to bemoan the fact most young Australians cannot quote Australian poems. But he doesn't identify how to fix this. Surely the work of performance poets such as Emilie Zoey Baker, who are reintroducing poetry in a hip and accessible way to people, can only be a good thing.

What is not a good thing is Bantick's boomer superiority:

Gens X and Y are impoverished and have no storehouse of verse to call on.
Finally, Bantick lists Aussie poets such as James McAuley, A.D. Hope, Judith Wright and Les Murray. These are great poets, who reward careful reading and rereading. They write great poems and should be celebrated for this. But he also mentions Henry Lawson and Banjo Paterson, poets who were more story tellers, who wrote ballads that would immediately capture people's imaginations in pubs and would give instant gratification to the listener.

A bit like today's slam poets.

Here is Emilie from TedxMelbourne. Enjoy.

TEDxMelbourne - Emilie Zoey Baker - Slam Poet by tedxmelbourne

1 comment:

  1. check out her talk regarding this article at The Wheeler Centre