Saturday, 21 April 2007

Lee Harwood

& a very quick note on half the Poetry Cafe reading on Friday & then bedtime for boogazulus. The Poetry Cafe is the most exciting venue in London because if the standard of the work falls below threshold n the audience die of heat poisoning. Terminal burrowing behaviour is the name for why people are found dead behind wardrobes, under beds or on shelves. The gig on Friday (Lee Harwood & son & John Hall & others) held the vital interest very well, partly through variety in the surface, a variety which included Lee Harwood cut-up trip-hop club-bangers (created, I think, by his son). Now:

The Lee Harwood Drinking Game

Lee Harwood says “Sunshine” – down a tequila.
Lee Harwood says “Leaf” – down a whiskey.
Lee Harwood says “Bigears” – down a voddie.

[That’s enough The Lee Harwood Drinking Game – ed.]

Dictions are easy to mock. But the soundscapes, though meritorious noise, nailed into me how trite the dictions they sampled were, by conspicuously lacking whatever it is that makes the source poems “work” (to use a usefully-banal expression, indicative of approval probably comprising little more than an expectation of approval from approved sources of approval) despite their unengaging lexical field.

(Maybe this question is largely the question of how time and again a piece of language tips over the better side of a knife edge -- becomes generosity not naivety, for example, vulnerablity not sickliness, audacious hope not unworldly optimism; becomes such things barely?)

I don’t know the answer, but guess it may involve the voice (fucked), the tonal range (utterly un-reverent), the Ashberyish prosodic stance (leaning forward in slight, constant greed), the wrought nonchalance (whose spookiness might mutate into a senses of other deceptions, but do they exist?), the very occasional moment of ugliness, violence or ghoulish rebuke (“what do you want? an A-B-C?”), the man’s personality, reception, and luck.

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