Tuesday, May 20, 2008

"Let's talk to the poet, not look at the work itself..."

Here's a letter of protest I wrote to the CBC, in response to their interviews with Don Domanski on the Sunday edition and on their web site's Poet of the Month. I hope it gets posted (well, it did). And for any of you out there who care enough, I encourage you to send letters too. They need waking up at the CBC, and I'm sure it will require more than one voice to do that!

I suppose I should begin by thanking you for giving some media exposure to poets. This, however, is to be expected of a public broadcaster. What I take you to task for is the lack of exposure given to poetry itself. Here, Don Domanski was interviewed for 20 minutes on the Sunday Edition, and not one poem of his was read! And again, on your “Poet of the Month” feature, several inches of space are given to a similar interview, and again, not one poem. This, unfortunately, is not atypical of the CBC nowadays. Do you remember the days when Robert Weaver paid the likes of Al Purdy or Irving Layton to read poems on the radio? That era is long gone. Unfortunately, a poet’s work is not always readily available “at a bookstore near you”.

I have written a missive like this before, and expect I will have to again. The solution is simple: poetry is sound-bite friendly, and a few extra inches on a web page cost nothing to get a sense of a poet’s actual writing, rather than just chatter about the importance of awards and sources of inspiration. But as long as the CBC is more dedicated to the culture of celebrity than culture per se, I’m afraid this simple criticism will fall on deaf ears.

8 comments:

R. W. Watkins said...

Yes, this is bad for a station that was once so cutting-edge as the CBC; but can you imagine how much worse it would have been if CTV/GlobeMedia had tried something like this...? Ha!

Brian Campbell said...

They wouldn't even try.

Mark John Hiemstra said...

Isn't that the point of an interview? Talking to a poet, a filmmaker, a visual artist, a writer... the point of an interview is to provide insights into the artist themself, not to showcase their work.
I think you're quibbling about the CBC for no reason. To say that the CBC is no longer "cutting edge" simply because the don't publish part of the poet's work is just ridiculous, at least in this venue.

You'll hear lots of spoken word on CBC radio still. I actually think that you're being quite insulting, not only to the interviewer, but to Don Domanski. Basically, you've suggested that what he had to say was not interesting enough for you.

Unfortunately, I think you've completely missed the point of the whole exercise. Look around, find an interview with a novelist. See if any of the novel is added. Probably not. Why? Because this is an interview with a person.

It's not the job of public broadcasters to publish anyone's work. If the interviewer has done a good job and the interview subject was interesting, it should pique enough curiosity to go find out more for those who read the interview.

"the CBC is more dedicated to the culture of celebrity than culture per se"
Come on, man. Have a look at the website. There are so many stories on that site that hardly warrant a mention, but are there because of the many people at the CBC who feel a close connection to the Arts and want to provide a place where others can find out about what's going on, no matter how unimportant it might seem.

If you want to read some poetry, feel free to support the poet and buy his book. I'm so sick of people demanding that the CBC be exactly the way they want it to be.

Brian Campbell said...

I'm not sure why you feel you have to defend the CBC so aggressively. Do you work for them, or have friends working for them? If so, you don't have that civil CBC style. I'm a Canadian taxpayer; so I think I have the right to criticize what I pay for. If we don't dissent, or discuss, if we just tow the party line, well they'll get away with worse than they're doing already. Granted, there were some good things in the Enright interview, and my letter could have "softer". I'm intrigued, as a result of that interview,to pick up one of Domanski's books, or read what I come across -- although as one reader pointed out on the Poet of the Month website, it *wasn't* easy to order at the time (basically she couldn't). And no, I won't order a book of his just because he has interesting jive. I'd rather read some of it first. Anyway, why shouldn't media showcase some work rather than tidbits and chitchat and reviewers' interpretations? How much mainstream media showcases actual work varies from from one time to another and one culture to another. By your rationale, Robert Weaver did on the CBC would have been "ridiculous". For contemporary contrast, check out the BBC. For a tiny example, scroll down to my post of April 16. Other things are possible. And they're simple, inexpensive, and have been done for for a very long time.

mjh said...

Good lord, man, did you ever miss the point.
wow

Brian Campbell said...

I concede you had some powerful comments to make about some of the good points of CBC arts coverage -- and should have done so more explicitly in my reply above...rather than getting into some one-upmanship game. However, I rather doubt you've gotten mine... as yet. For an example of more civilized debate -- and I think a lot can be learned from D's style of communication -- see the post above.

R. W. Watkins said...

Well, looks like we have ourselves a troublemaker. He doesn't seem to realise who the real curmudgeonly prick is around here. If I was living nearby, I'd lean on 'im a little for ya, Brian.

Of course, we have to keep in mind who pays the CBC's salaries—the same goons who hire other goons to decide what subservient sycophants dole out the dollars in the name of our national and provincial arts councils. These are the people born of whore's blood and horses' sperm who ultimately determine what constitutes Canadian culture, and what best represents it artistically. When the CBC allows me to read my ‘WANTED DEAD: The Federal Minister of Justice’ and ‘The Poet Laureate of Canada is a Government-Ass Licker’ on the air, then, like Winston Smith, shall I finally love Big Brother.

Matters artistic and cultural will not transcend the ordinary in this country until the Great Slaughter takes place in the capital city. When the streets run red in Ottawa, and heads are raised on sharpened sticks; when 12-year olds dance naked and sing, bathing in the great crimson torrents of blood; when starving artists feast upon the barbecued limbs of cabinet ministers and TV news anchors, tossing the entrails to the rats, then and only then will the glowing stone of Pydd-Galojjastogk sprout lips and speak, and the sacred sundog of Cynghanedd align with Church and Brothel—thus creating the great portal that will allow our mighty bohemian Overlord to descend to Earth. At this point, we shall finally be FREEEEEEEEEEE. There will be truly high culure and everlasting joy, the rotting corpses of Ignorance whirling through a vortex into outer darkness. Like something out of a Hieronymus Bosch painting, Stephen Harper and Mike Duffy shall be last seen running for the border, hockey sticks poking out their arses.

Brian Campbell said...

LOL (yes truly, you made me LOL with this one) Now, there's one shining example of civilized debate! (*Civilized* in the true sense of the word.)

Hey, do you think we could apply for a Discovery grant to get this Slaughter started?