Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Coren meets his match

Oh look! That nice Giles Coren (yes, the sensitive soul whose weekends are ruined by sub-editors who don't get his hilarious jokes, but who can't tell a stressed syllable from an unstressed), is at it again. This time it's poetry he's on about.

What's most disappointing is that when, once or twice, he touches upon an interesting angle, he quickly buries it under a load of badly argued (or not argued at all) generalisations. There are the usual lame attempts at humour, and thinly disguised sneering at anyone not fortunate enough to have enjoyed his own advantages (the most notable of which was a father with the right contacts in the media).

You'll have noticed that Mr Coren really gets my goat, and I was quite ready to explode into furious blogging action. Fortunately, a few minutes browsing revealed that Katy Evans-Bush has already posted a far more temperate, thoughtful and characteristically elegant response (see how she's used a bit of context in there, Giles? Try it sometime.). My only argument with Katy might be her description of him as a journalist. He's a bloke who writes in a newspaper, and that's quite different, I reckon.

Still, that does point up one of the newspaper industry's main problems nowadays - the fact that very often, 'name' columnists are outshone by high-quality bloggers out there. Read back through Katy's blog over the last six months (or however long), and you get a real idea of the vibrancy, range and relevance of poetry (and all sorts of contemporary literature, for that matter). Read back through his columns, and you get a real idea of his one interest - Giles Coren - which is why, in the end, he equates his not giving a toss about poetry with everybody else being similarly indifferent.

STOP PRESS: Just noticed that the chaps at Gists & Piths have picked up on it too. The comments are excellent. I think Jane Holland's dead right to point out that people not caring about poetry (we'd probably differ on how many people, and how much) is what liberates it to do things that other artforms often can't (that's what I meant about him failing to develop the interesting angles). Alan Baker, too, points out the usual bizarre inconsistency in newspaper coverage of poetry (poetry is dead and rubbish / poetry is the new rock 'n' roll), and also says the same sort of thing as I did - what exactly is the point of this type of column nowadays? And George Ttoouli hits the nail on the head, for me. As a writer, you might subscribe to Coren's views. As a reader, why would you care?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Matt - you are right about Coren, though sadly many "dead tree" writers are now becoming ever more shrill in their attempts to hang on to their audiences and, by extension, their incomes. Thanks (I think) for drawing his latest horror to my attention though! James