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Lets thank Campbell Newman for saving us from dreary poetry

As regular readers will have gathered I actaully like the craft of writing,  In this craft, like all forms of creative writing, you learn what works to get your message across and you learn that by having a direct interaction with your readers, rather than having what you write filtered through an editor or a publisher. You see what I am circling around is the issue of “literary awards” and their role in the writing landscape. I have been inclined to think about this because Campbell Newman has just announce that he is scrapping the Queensland Premiers awards with an annual saving to the budget of nearly a quarter of a million bucks. Of course the response to this from the literati has been to denounce this as the act of a philistine:

Click for source

Personally I think that poetry per se is very over rated and that apart from aspiring members of the literati nobody reads poetry at all these days. The exception is of course the poetry of songs and songwriters. I bet that if you ask “Jane Bloggs” on the street to recite a poem from memory you will draw a blank but you ask her to tell you the lyric to a popular song and she will be close to  word perfect.  Of course the cultural elites look down their noses at mere popular music yet that would have to be the only form of poetry that makes any kind of an impression on the people or makes  quid these days. So perhaps we should acknowledge that Campbell Newman is doing we Queenslanders  a favour by scrapping the awards and allowing a rather useless forms of literary expression  slide into the obscurity that it so richly deserves

    Cheers Comrades





  1. Ray Dixon says:

    He’s saving $250,000? Wow – the man is on a cost-saving mission. What’s next, cutting back on parliamentary tea & biscuits?

  2. GD says:

    I’m particularly partial to poetry. As a youngster, song lyrics intrigued me, especially when in print, and from there, with the help of a bit of primary school Shakespeare, I discovered poetry. I won prizes each year in high school for poetry. It was the easiest thing. Rather than write essays, dash off a poem, and there’s a prize at the end of term. It also didn’t hurt during the last year of school. The odd crazy poem guaranteed a higher mark for less work.

    I reckon song lyrics are the little brother of poetry. They need music to help them stand up and walk. Song lyrics as written by the writers in the 30s and 40s are exceptions. Oscar Hammerstein, Ira Gershwin and Lorenz Hart penned lyrics that not only suited the mood of the music, but also stood alone if read on the page.

    In more recent times, lyric writing has taken a bashing. From ‘My Boy Lollipop’ to ‘My Achy Breaky Heart’, the trend has been from the brilliant to the banal. Fortunately some lyricists have continued the craft. Elton John has worked with Bernie Taupin for most of his career. Taupin is a particularly poetic lyricist. His work on their third album, ‘Country Comfort’, sets the mood even before the chords ring in.

    Billy Joel is multi-talented here too, writing not only the music but also the lyrics. ‘Just The Way You Are’ and ‘We Didn’t Start The Fire’ are two diverse examples.

    I could mention the bastard off-spring of poetry and lyrics, those mindless, aggressive and angry child-like rhymes that rappers use. But I won’t.

    But to get back to poetry, the art that doesn’t require a beat or a tune to reach its audience.
    This guy is Australia’s Poet Laureate, Les Murray:

    The Quality Of Sprawl

    Sprawl is the quality
    of the man who cut down his Rolls-Royce
    into a farm utility truck, and sprawl
    is what the company lacked when it made repeated efforts
    to buy the vehicle back and repair its image.

    Sprawl is doing your farm work by aeroplane, roughly,
    or driving a hitchhiker that extra hundred miles home.
    It is the rococo of being your own still centre.
    It is never lighting cigars with ten dollar notes:
    that’s idiot ostentation and murder of starving people.
    Nor can it be bought with the ash of million dollar deeds.

    Sprawl lengthens the legs; it trains greyhounds on liver and beer.
    Sprawl almost never says, Why not?, with palms comically raised
    nor can it be dressed for, not even in running shoes worn
    with mink and a nose ring. That is Society. That’s Style.
    Sprawl is more like the thirteenth banana in a dozen
    or anyway the fourteenth.

    the rest of this poem is here:

    then there’s this guy, whose writing I met back in primary school:

    The Quality of Mercy

    The quality of mercy is not strain’d,
    It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
    Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
    It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
    ‘T is mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes
    The throned monarch better than his crown;
    His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
    The attribute to awe and majesty,
    Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
    But mercy is above this sceptred sway,
    It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
    It is an attribute to God himself;
    And earthly power doth then show likest God’s,
    When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew,
    Though justice be thy plea, consider this,
    That in the course of justice none of us
    Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy;
    And that same prayer doth teach us all to render

    The deeds of mercy.William Shakespeare, “The Merchant of Venice”, Act 4 scene 1

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