I wrote and sent the raw draft poem below to my ‘Sure I’m no feckin’ poet’ friend of mine this morning, I got his almost by now usual response – i.e. “ It might be alright – when/if you finish/edit/burn/make/bin it, poetry is about what anyway, have you a title yet, why did you write it like that – where’s that tenner you owe me?"
I’ve recently been privy to discussions among poets about poetry and creative writing / poetry workshops, (I will add some other thoughts on those later this week) So as maybe my own parallel exercise in vanity or insanity, or open poem surgery or open heart poetry, I include some explanation of the content of this poem without detailing its making process, this hopefully leaves some aspects of the poem open to discovery, available to open interpretation, with a big red target on it, maybe the idea seems downright stupid, but that's never stopped me from doing anything in the past.
Careless Cheshire character cracks
Biffo’s boom boom bust
Two tears not healthy native cheers
from Neary’s negative trust.
Follow nor fool, none of the time
spent gorgeous snouts beget
none of the plastic paddies rhyme
250 means stouts I’ll bet
All aboard our stinking ships
Neither fish nor flesh is dealing,
Bank card poker strip or snips
cut your cloth to what we’re stealing
Warts the worth of your poet soul
join our tell your vision set sale
tide over planxty poll or dole
keep you well inside the pale.
The health care debate in the USA enlivened an otherwise politically dreary summer in the UK media but the cheshire grins of two jags Prescott lauding it over the conservatives’ internal riffs merely reminded me of ‘our glorious leader/ringmaster Brian Cowen’s similar capacity for condescension, in his specific case, in the face of near economic implosion – he still sticks to his cynically dismissive quips. An odd or obtuse thought occurred, despite previous caricature controversy, like his party's great founder Sean Lemass before him, Cowen, although partly responsible for it, might end up getting his own actual bust. Conversely there is nothing funny whatsoever about the current state of the Irish Healthcare system –two tiers of extreme opposites, a duel system model whose public ‘operations’ (or lack thereof) within a thirty mile radius of my own home has a proven administrative capacity, if only to kill and maim. Basil Brush always suffixed his jokes with 'Boom Boom'. Solemnity juxtaposed with the utterly frivolous was something I’ve previously explored in Bob Casio’s Dead Cameraman.
Malpracticing Neary the butcher, like fellow hospital consultants, sat on the top tier of our wonky system, spouting hippocratic while acting hypocritical in terms of financial demands on a health service and its ‘little natives’ i.e. us taxpaying funders. Dismissing any and all suggested benefits of pharmaceutical courtships, a senior consultant working in the public service can expect to earn between €220,000 and €250,000 annually – yes that’s an almost unbelievable quarter of a million 250K a year in straight salary, every year, 6.5 times the average industrial wage or 25 times the top social welfare rate, now those later multiples figures (38K) (10K) are based before the bust and recession , so they may reduce, but the consultants salaries have just been agreed after four years of unbecoming hissy fitting, wrangling & haggling,– just prior to the latest economic belt tightening initiative which, with Colm McCarthy’s aid, is now ‘more strip than snips’.
Apparently all of Ireland’s public servants are now way overpaid when compared to other EU countries like France or Finland. So called professions (many of which were once regarded as vocations) sought to keep pace with the boom rise in trades salaries – which just became lunacy at one point – Brickies in Dublin paid €3 Per Brick laid, engulfed by the rising tide of greed laborer’s wages lifted to 600-800-1000 euro per week and the ego and envy dominos continued falling outside Pandora’s cashbox into every other ‘professional’ sector. But apparently we now all have to pay for that tide, hype, greed and covetousness and as with other 19th industrial thinking in our little country –the vulnerable and the weak will end up paying most and getting least. Sorry James but our own great don’t appear great at all anymore they just look like a bunch of self important scavengers elbowing and grunting at an emptying trough.
Soon as the government starts to believe the waters are calming after the over 70s medical card fiasco, cue another domino dispute, more medical professionals, i.e. the pharmacists and dispensing chemists, who now want more money per each individual transaction they process on behalf of the wonky health service. To demonstrate their utter seriousness and ethical commitment to their passionate position they first withdraw methadone dispensing services to recovering addicts– lets just pause to acknowledge how many previous heroin users wield sway or influence with either media or political systems, before we contextualize petty greed within difficult daily life and dignity struggles, misery, pain, danger and death that is class A drug addiction or daddy buying the latest tapered heels or reptile leathers from Christian Dior.
Gut wrenching as it is, plastic paddy was once a term of derision used to insult a person of Irish parentage born in the UK, but the indigenous Irish psyche itself became polymerized by cheap credit deals during those celtic tiger years – the entire population developed plastic paddy potential. Those requiring corrective reorientation, sedatives or some form of psychotherapy, instead self medicated on retail and leisure therapy, credit card companies lubricated the way, stores acted as corner pimps pumping out said plastic and dealing it in all directions, flushing it into every corner of society - a poker game where they couldn't lose. This dirty little country was awash, stinking with money, half cocked building developments from consortia of dentists, accountants, surveyors, wheeling and dealing, greedily stealing ‘the worth of their own souls’. Cluttered car parks helicopters flying them in, filling up gambling orgies disguised as race meetings, money madness beggared beyond belief in the cost of everything and value of nothing, vanity and ruthlessly reckless collective stupidity, self engorgement, aggrandizement, sheer gluttony, utter folly, idiots.
And now everyone is expected to contribute to the clean up and convalescence – like the impending swine flu epidemic, we are assured that no one in Ireland will be immune to these effects. The Irish Writers Centre has already seen its funding withdrawn. The whole arts community throughout the country will, without doubt and without exception suffer financially, which may not be such a terrible thing for a very very small number of arrogant individuals – nothing like a crisis to make you appreciate art and what you’ve already got by way of it or maybe talent, although it’s often a very necessary evil that aspects of art should be about amounts of money as much as talent, time or thought, irrespective of all that art and its making must be a right of all citizens of the state. Most poets wont suffer directly from cuts as few, in my experience, ever benefited at all in the first place. Games or digital writers have received nothing from anyone else so any change to funding or funding criteria can only make a positively impact. Hey 'digital writer' or 'digital poet' might even become recognized terms, particularly if there's no cost attached.
The Irish Film Board may get chopped entirely, just as the film and television industry hits its own special identity crisis. Although the film constituent is ironically enjoying pretty good exposure, (notably over in Toronto at present) the tv industry here is in an overall mess, not simply because of the economic down turn, reduction in advertising revenue, a crowded facilities market, lack of genuine originality or imagination or even the general production budget squeezes, but primarily because it is seeing its own cultural relevance slowly eroded away on an almost weekly basis, the rise of the independent producer in this information age, the emergence of the internet amateur. Impacting are the changes in, spread of, collective and collaborative working, the democratizing power of new media, the growing irrelevance of gatekeepers, the falling costs of quality production hardware, low cost and open source ‘feature rich’ software becoming more widely available, the actual loss of prestige – proliferating channels with lower and lowering production values - makes lots of people just go 'ugh' to TV.
As an industry, TV & Film in Ireland is striving to be vibrant, stay alive, stay relevant, preserve its structures yet milk new talent, it’s actually so much more insipid than that. I got a cold call phone call this morning from a polite gentlemen called Brendan from IFTN in Dublin (Dublin BTW folks is often known by some uncouth others, such as grips and technicians as the bleedin’ center of da universe for all tings tv roight, Tea naw Gee me arse roight),
Brendan who obviously wasn't a technician or grip confidently informed me he was from the ultimately intangibly interesting ITFN. After a short subliminal sales spiel about the exclusivity and professionalism of his particular organization / network, apparently the mention of awards on national tv may have contained the potential to impress or dazzle. (I immediately assured him that I would win the award for self imposed isolation from his very industry – enjoying only global contact with others who were equally bored by such hegemonic constructs – ( Amazingly Brendan had never previously encountered the word hegemonic – he obviously hadn’t read any of my previous drivel or rantings then ). Undeterred, he continued to inform me that since I was a registered writer with membership of a professional organization, also holding a proven track record, for the mere trifling sum of 100 euro, his splendid organization, which is already abundantly replete with the exquisite talent of many ably ensconced producers and directors, has now deemed me worthy to be offered the actually invaluable opportunity to join their band of mostly merry networking backslapping soon to be mostly obsolete or unemployed television and film professionals. Despite or maybe because I changed the subject of our conversation to dental costs, Brenda vowed to send me a follow up email invitation but in his utter professionalism he fooked up, or the penny dropped and I didn’t get any email from him.
So even 'talents' peripheral or ancillary to the traditional gatekeepers are now praying on any potential economic aspirants at 100 euro a pop, its not quite down there in the pharmacist’s league (with the devil) but it does border on exploitation, a sort of anticipatory or emotional exploitation, or even pseudo-emotional exploitation like that which sees two hundred and fifty years of domestic abuse, alcoholic insanity, road deaths, disfigurement, violence, the ruin of a nation, a people, a class and the propagation of a modern myth of Irishness – used and abused for the sole purpose of corporate empire building.
I of course refer to the current blanket TV bombing on behalf of one Arthur Guinness by the international corporate entity that is Diageo, all in the name of anticipated global celebration, the famed pint of plain which fueled and directly or indirectly killed Behan, Flann O Brien and many many other Irish writers, poets, and would have beens, its actually an apology Diageo should be issuing in September not some fantasized glamorathon bollocks, its irritating that in acquiring the stout vats they also managed to appropriate the Irish national symbol of the harp and brazenly exploit it for solely commercial purposes, I mean the corporation Diageo is a fat cats profit machine, selling what is in effect a legal stimulant, a drug, and one that they have sought to convince the general public actually brings benefits outside divorce court settlements. In celtic society every chief and all clans had a resident harp player called a Planxty who wrote songs in honor of the leader (-:
what can a harpless writer do
poets could make a poem,
artists invent an image,
digital writers, well just imagine.