Monday, 23 April 2007

From "Don't Start Me Talking"

[...] I didn't start writing poetry myself though. I had a sceptical attitude to students who did. I bought a few things that looked like Prynne, but thought John Wilkinson was a pale wannabe, and that his boasts about playing ping-pong with a punk band were sad. I read Geoff Ward saying "forget punk rock, Cambridge poetry is the only thing going" and decided he was a tosser. In fact, I remember reading out this statement to Andrew Blake, a sax-playing history student who'd introduced me to Albert Ayler and Pharaoh Sanders and Archie Shepp. Feats Don't Fail Me Now by Little Feats was on in my college room, and he jerked his thumb at the record player and said -- "but what about this?". Exactly. I had problems with poetry which seemed to breathe an air of privileged self-regard. I think you did too, Andrew! Why else would you have put out Negative Reaction, a punk fanzine, and put copies in Remember Those Oldies on King Street? I looked at it, admired the title, but didn't buy it. Whyever not? Stupid. We could've started a band and changed the world.

Prynne's 'poetry' wasn't self-regarding, it was all prickle and attack and shiny malevolence. It walled out collusion. It accused you. Instead of inviting you into the sad, damp atmosphere of the sensitive poet -- the special pleadings of some over-educated shithead -- it made you feel paranoid and panicky, a shot of adrenaline. It has an affect like pornography or alcohol or Manga animation, below the belt as it were, you can't argue with it. So I decided to wreck my academic career [...]

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