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Poetry exposure versus Folksong

Betsy 02 Oct 14 - 07:43 PM
GUEST 02 Oct 14 - 08:49 PM
meself 02 Oct 14 - 09:02 PM
Musket 03 Oct 14 - 03:35 AM
GUEST,Howard Jones 03 Oct 14 - 04:43 AM
GUEST, topsie 03 Oct 14 - 06:22 AM
Betsy 03 Oct 14 - 07:14 AM
GUEST,Howard Jones 03 Oct 14 - 07:59 AM
Musket 03 Oct 14 - 10:00 AM
Betsy 03 Oct 14 - 08:37 PM
GUEST,Peter 04 Oct 14 - 05:45 AM
Howard Jones 04 Oct 14 - 07:29 AM
Richard Mellish 04 Oct 14 - 08:21 AM
theleveller 04 Oct 14 - 08:36 AM
GUEST,pete from seven stars link 04 Oct 14 - 09:42 AM
theleveller 04 Oct 14 - 10:36 AM
GUEST,Jim Knowledge 04 Oct 14 - 11:19 AM
Harmonium Hero 04 Oct 14 - 12:04 PM
GUEST, topsie 05 Oct 14 - 08:22 AM
GUEST,Peter 05 Oct 14 - 01:31 PM
Bill D 05 Oct 14 - 05:01 PM
Amergin 05 Oct 14 - 08:14 PM
Musket 06 Oct 14 - 03:36 AM
GUEST,Desi C 07 Oct 14 - 11:23 AM
The Sandman 07 Oct 14 - 04:38 PM
The Sandman 07 Oct 14 - 05:16 PM
The Sandman 08 Oct 14 - 03:07 PM
Northerner 09 Oct 14 - 11:56 AM
FreddyHeadey 30 Oct 14 - 03:01 PM
GUEST,DTM 30 Oct 14 - 03:12 PM
Musket 31 Oct 14 - 05:57 AM
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Subject: Poetry versus Folksong - exposure
From: Betsy
Date: 02 Oct 14 - 07:43 PM

I don't want to start a contest between these two art forms, but I have asked myself for ages now, and I ask you (in the UK especially ) why is Poetry both traditional and contemporaty held in a higher regard than Folk song both traditional and contemporary .
The major point being , a person who writes a song has written ,and (generally) has set it to music. (The process obviously can be slightly different dependent on how the songwriter arrives at the end result)
Nevertheless a wordsmith has set his words to music, which in my opinion far exceeds the efforts and skill of a Poet.
True - The content is purely a subjective matter.
Radio 4 (an esteemed National programme in the UK ) can find a prime half hour slot for "Poetry Please" (and repeated) in which dreary people recite poems introduced by an equally dreary person. The airs these people give themselves whilst reciting - which after all is only speaking , is bullshit, and, all read from some book or other, can NEVER be compared to the delivery of a song by a beautiful or expressive voice - tastefully, accompanied (or not) by instruments.
Surely God's first instrument of music to man was the singing voice, and it is beyond my comprehension how dull pretentious people , bleating out spoken poetry.
As Folkies we all know/have some favourite , truly stupendous songs , renditions and arrangements by amazing performers - but to (say) deliver them with purely the spoken word would be to almost devalue or destroy them.
Maybe - only maybe !!e.g. some of Rabbie Burns's would never have become widely known if they had not be converted into songs - I understand he never wrote a song - only poems , I stand to be corrected.
Maybe the Radio exposure I seek for Folk music nationally hasn't done itself any good in it's previous attempts. Perhaps the play lists haven't had a wide enough appeal because of content. I don't know - I simply don't know.
Right I have to finish , so , you're driving along in your car or listening at home - what songs do you believe represent the overall good /excellence of Folk music - instead the average driver reaching to the radio ,to " Turn that shite off".

Cheers

Betsy


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Subject: RE: Poetry exposure versus Folksong
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Oct 14 - 08:49 PM

I suspect you only choose folksong as the comparison because the two environments are tolerant of abuse. Poetry, and it's bastard sibling "storytelling", share with the folk music movement that huge failing of taking contributors at face value, at least to start with. That tolerance is used by the boring, needy, unsympathetic, deranged and self- obsessed as a free pass to inflict their unconsidered compositions on those who in politeness will not leave the room.

I've had it put to me that the Meejah and that lot find sincerity problematic. Hence thir problems with morris dancers and train spotters. So the question only remains, why does that shower accept sincere poets but not sincere songwriters?

Simples, as the saying apparently goes. The Meejistas think they could write poetry if they could find time in their busy schedules; but they'd never find the time to put it to music.


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Subject: RE: Poetry exposure versus Folksong
From: meself
Date: 02 Oct 14 - 09:02 PM

I assume that's a half-hour (plus repeat) each day?


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Subject: RE: Poetry exposure versus Folksong
From: Musket
Date: 03 Oct 14 - 03:35 AM

For those who understand such distinctions, I suppose they would refer to technical construct versus fitting a story to rhythm and cadences.

I'm not that clever so instead I will quote poetry as heard in a South Yorkshire Folk Club back in the early '80s..

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high
Along trees and river banks
I trod upon a bloke's bare arse
And heard a woman's voice say "thanks."


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Subject: RE: Poetry exposure versus Folksong
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 03 Oct 14 - 04:43 AM

Poetry is a different art from songwriting. It is entirely dependent on getting meaning and emotion from language. Songwriting uses similar forms, but uses music to reinforce these. Songs may also be poetry, and poetry can also be set to music. However an over-poetic lyric may fail as a song because it places too much emphasis on the words, and setting a poem to music may detract from the poetry. And as you point out, many songs would not work as poetry, without the music to reinforce them.

You appear not to enjoy poetry - that is a matter of taste. Your criticism of the delivery is a personal opinion - these are read by professional actors, and personally I find their delivery is usually excellent. Similar complaints could probably also be applied to many folk singers by someone who doesn't appreciate that particular art form.

Half an hour of poetry a week on Radio 4 compared with an hour of folk music on Radio 2. Not enough of either, arguably, but are we being poorly served by comparison?


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Subject: RE: Poetry exposure versus Folksong
From: GUEST, topsie
Date: 03 Oct 14 - 06:22 AM

They may be 'professional actors' but usually their reading is not to my taste - too much of the soft, wistful, airy-fairy delivery.

Ian McMillan, on the other hand, manages to read poetry in a natural, down-to-earth way that is much more effective.


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Subject: RE: Poetry exposure versus Folksong
From: Betsy
Date: 03 Oct 14 - 07:14 AM

Guest:- please use some identity - your views are interesting.
Musket - I'd bet money that was Tony Capstick - he's the first I heard reciting it - late 70's
Meself :- I can't say for sure but I believe it's one show a week (repeated). It has a nice prime spot on Sunday afternoons around 4.00pm
Howard I appreciate your views - and of course you are verging on being correct about my tastes.
I'm not a Radio 2 listener so not in the habit of accidentally stumbling on the programme - as I am usually tuned to Radio 4 . Thereby (maybe) lays thefoundation of some of the ire I have expressed.
I can't understand why some one Writes / Emails "Poetry Please" to get a poem read on air but I can understand someone requesting a song which is difficult to get hold of perhaps because of vinyl etc issues.
I also feel that the readers (professional or not) seem to adopt a holier-than-thou position ,and I don't feel so isolated now, after reading Topsie's comments above.
Finally ,the thought of paying good money to attend a poetry-reading has me absolutely puzzled , do the attendees feel that they place themselves on a higher intellectual or social scale possibly in the way Ballet and Opera wallies do?

Cheers
Betsy


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Subject: RE: Poetry exposure versus Folksong
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 03 Oct 14 - 07:59 AM

Radio 4 is primarily spoken word - you're not going to hear much music of any genre. If you want to hear music, listen to music stations.

What is the difference between a poetry-lover wanting to hear a particular poem read aloud (a different experience from reading it oneself) and a music-lover requesting a song?

Plenty of people would wonder why anyone would pay good money to go to a folk club. I don't understand why anyone would pay good money to go to a football match, or to watch golf. It's just a matter of taste, because you don't enjoy something yourself doesn't make those who do 'wallies'. You appear to have a bit of a chip on your shoulder.


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Subject: RE: Poetry exposure versus Folksong
From: Musket
Date: 03 Oct 14 - 10:00 AM

Now you mention it Betsy, I possibly did get it from Tony... I once asked him, himself being a BBC Radio Sheffield megastar... if he would do a couple of jingle voiceovers for the local hospital radio I was involved with. We didn't get much further than "come and be ill with hospital radio.."

Still better than his rhetorical questions...

"What's the difference between light and hard? You can go to sleep with the light on."

"What's the difference between a blow job and a lobster thermidore? Nothing, you can't get either in our house."

Still miss the dozy little bugger...


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Subject: RE: Poetry exposure versus Folksong
From: Betsy
Date: 03 Oct 14 - 08:37 PM

Musket - love it - he was a lovely man.
Howard - please don't accuse me of having a chip on my shoulder - I find that quite OFFENSIVE , because ,if one cares to refer to my many posts over the years , I am as polite and in addition to being reasonably informed as a decent person can be, and I love being a contributor and avid reader of Mudcat posts.
Besides if I had a chip on my shoulder I would have one on each shoulder as I consider myself a well-ballanced person
I don't contribute to a thread when I consider I don't have sufficient knowledge of the Subject Matter - I nevertheless enjoy reading such things.
Of course your statement "Your criticism of the delivery is a personal opinion " is obvious - it's not someone else's opinion - it's mine.
You will hear a fabulous cross-section of music - and definitely some not / and to, my liking (depending on the guest) on Desert Island discs on RADIO 4.

Cheers
Betsy


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Subject: RE: Poetry exposure versus Folksong
From: GUEST,Peter
Date: 04 Oct 14 - 05:45 AM

" I find that quite OFFENSIVE "
As a lover of both folk music and opera I found your first post offensive.


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Subject: RE: Poetry exposure versus Folksong
From: Howard Jones
Date: 04 Oct 14 - 07:29 AM

Betsy, you dismissed the poetry programme as poems ready by dreary people, dull pretentious people giving themselves airs. You go on to suggest that people who enjoy poetry are 'wallies', along with those who enjoy ballet and opera. You're perfectly entitled not to enjoy any of these yourself, but your dismissal of those who do, and in particular the offensive language in which you express it, suggests to me that you have a chip on your shoulder. I regret you were offended, but your own language at attitude was offensive.

All art forms have similar aims: to generate emotions, to educate, to make you think differently, to entertain, among others. They do these in different ways, and some people are more receptive to different forms. People engage with poetry in much the same way and for the same reasons as they do with music, or any other art form.

You say you are puzzled why anyone would pay to go to a poetry reading. They do so for the same reason people pay to go to a concert. Hearing poetry read aloud is a different experience from reading it off a page, and hearing other people's interpretation may give you a different insight into a poem, just as different singers interpret songs differently.

To turn to your original point, there is nowhere near enough folk music (or poetry) on the radio, however the BBC regularly broadcasts an hour of folk a week compared with half an hour (repeated, like most Radio 4 programmes) of poetry. In terms of exposure, of the two folk music is doing rather better.


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Subject: RE: Poetry exposure versus Folksong
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 04 Oct 14 - 08:21 AM

There's been some umbrage-taking here, so let's please have a bit of clarification from the OP Betsy.

You did refer to "Ballet and Opera wallies". Do you regard all the people who enjoy ballet and/or opera as "wallies", or were you referring to a subset of those people who are pretentious about those art forms and dismissive of those with different tastes?


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Subject: RE: Poetry exposure versus Folksong
From: theleveller
Date: 04 Oct 14 - 08:36 AM

Frankly, Betsy, I don't see how you can come to the conclusion that poetry is held in higher regard than folk music on the basis that it has one short programme a week on Radio 4 on a Sunday afternoon. Surely, this is simply a statement of your preference for folk music over poetry. Others would take the opposite view. Some will, of course, enjoy both in equal measure.

I'm not sure what you mean by 'traditional' poetry – perhaps you could expand on that – but what small amount of Early English poetry we have was probably designed to be recited in public (as, for instance, was Beowulf) and being from an oral tradition was not written down and is therefore lost. Poets like Basil Bunting insist that all poetry should be read out loud by the author in order to fully assess its impact, metre and meaning. To listen to Bunting reciting Brigg Flatts is, for me, an experience that makes the hairs stand up on the back of my neck (which A E Housman in his essay, The Name and Nature of Poetry, insists is the test of true poetry) and I would far rather listen to that than, say, the raucous bawling of a group of shantymen. To say that recited poetry can never have the impact of a folksong is, to my mind, a statement drawn from pure ignorance as is your opinion (and that is all it is) that it is dreary, dull and pretentious. Listen, for example, to Dylan Thomas reading his poetry. Listen to sympathetic readings of John Clare's dialect poems. And talking of Housman, poems from A Shropshire Lad have been set to music with wonderful effect, especially by George Butterworth.

I write poetry and I also write songs and, whilst the disciplines are, in some ways, different, there is a broad overlap. I do, however, think that you probably need to overcome your prejudices and listen to some poets reciting their own work (not all do it well, but many can) and stop thinking of poetry as some sort of elitist, high-brow form. Of course, having done so, you may not think it's worth listening to. That's your prerogative, but don't insult poetry and poets simply because you cannot appreciate what they do.


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Subject: RE: Poetry exposure versus Folksong
From: GUEST,pete from seven stars link
Date: 04 Oct 14 - 09:42 AM

I remember reading some of my efforts at a festival once, and someone commenting that the content was good but the delivery dreary. I took it on board, and a year or two later the same critic commented on how I "had him this time " because I had upped the game , after concentrating on vocal clarity, dynamics and expression. . so I tend to think that a poet needs to be more like an actor to elevate just words on paper. having said that, if the words are well crafted, it will be appreciated, but may not bear continuous exposure to the same audience. but I guess folk songs may also not bear much more repeating to the same audience.
there are of course different types of poetry, and I have to confess that sometimes the wording may sound clever but I have no idea what it means.


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Subject: RE: Poetry exposure versus Folksong
From: theleveller
Date: 04 Oct 14 - 10:36 AM

BTW, if anyone want to listen to Basil Bunting reading extracts from Brigg Flatts in his wonderful, tobacco-stained Northumbrian lilt, you can do so here:

Brigg Flatts


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Subject: RE: Poetry exposure versus Folksong
From: GUEST,Jim Knowledge
Date: 04 Oct 14 - 11:19 AM

I `ad that Betsy in my cab, `er face was thunderous and long.
She `ad `er tranny on full blast in search of folk music and song.
But try as may she could find none, even surfing Radio Three.
All she could find was Brahms or Bach, and a load of modern poetry.
She said, " `ere Jim, do you like verse, without no tunes, just funny rhymes?"
I said, "Course I do, they pay quite well if you can get `em in Radio Times!!"


Whaddam I Like???


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Subject: RE: Poetry exposure versus Folksong
From: Harmonium Hero
Date: 04 Oct 14 - 12:04 PM

A couple of points: Robert Burns wrote his stuff mostly to trad tunes. He was a lover of Scottish melody, and my understanding is that he put words to the tunes to help preserve them. (Although many have had other tunes written for them since...). In many cases, he re-wrote existing songs. So his songs were written as songs, not as poetry.
And I'm not too sure about GUEST's comment about poetry's 'bastard sibling, storytelling'.
I could be talking out of my arse (I'm in the right place, then....), but I suspect that storytelling is much older - only exceeded in antiquity by the Bare-faced LIe. In which case, it may be that poetry grew from storytelling.
Discuss NICELY.

John Kelly


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Subject: RE: Poetry exposure versus Folksong
From: GUEST, topsie
Date: 05 Oct 14 - 08:22 AM

Betsy said 'I can't understand why some one Writes / Emails "Poetry Please" to get a poem read on air.'

Last night I happened on a repeat of 'Poetry Please', and when I heard the invitation to request a favourite poem, my immediate thought was 'Is there a poem I would like to hear read on the programme so as to force the other listeners to hear it?'

Am I arrogant or what?


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Subject: RE: Poetry exposure versus Folksong
From: GUEST,Peter
Date: 05 Oct 14 - 01:31 PM

Join the "wallies" topsy.

I for one will continue to enjoy a wide range of arts regardless of arrogant narrow minded people like Betsy


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Subject: RE: Poetry exposure versus Folksong
From: Bill D
Date: 05 Oct 14 - 05:01 PM

Most songs are heard multiple times, by various singers. A poetry reading 'usually' presents newish material each time. It may be difficult to absorb the sense of either a song or a poem in one hearing..... thus poetry is more often relegated to printed medium and read privately by someone who already appreciates the poetic form.

That may not explain everything, but I'd bet that decent poetry, read to ones self, is then easier to comprehend when then hearing it read aloud. (I heard Alan Ginsberg read aloud some of his stuff, and he really did make it more meaningful than just in printed word.)


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Subject: RE: Poetry exposure versus Folksong
From: Amergin
Date: 05 Oct 14 - 08:14 PM

There are good poets who are crappy performers/readers, and crappy poets who are good performers/readers. The crappy readers either mumble, and don't engage the audience or use what is called the "poet's voice" which is basically putting on airs....and trying to make themselves look important. The crappy poets but good readers tend to stay in the slam team where it is more the performance than the words that win. However, because they are crappy poets, you never see their words in print unless they either self publish, or a friend of theirs does it for them.

The same goes for folk music...there are shitty songs that can be made entertaining by the right person...and great songs that can be ruined by the wrong person.

I say this as a poet who is published....in anthologies and several literary magazines, as well as two chapbooks. I say this as a poet who gets booked to read, and sometimes paid for it.


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Subject: RE: Poetry exposure versus Folksong
From: Musket
Date: 06 Oct 14 - 03:36 AM

The BBC plays a hell of a lot of folk, not necessarily pigeon holed in Mark Radcliffe's show. Poetry therefore as a distinct art form gets far less.

I wrote a song where I was happy with the lyrics but the tune I was developing just wasn't working. A friend ran a poetry night every month in a pub nearby so I turned up (enjoyed myself more than I thought I would, being a heathen bugger) and recited my lyrics. "Would work better in a song" came the nice but critical consensus.

Am I in awe of poetry aficionados for being clever, or are "lyrics" a term of disapproval for failed poetry??

Been bugging me for years and I gave up on the song. A few couplets were dragged into subsequent songs though.


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Subject: RE: Poetry exposure versus Folksong
From: GUEST,Desi C
Date: 07 Oct 14 - 11:23 AM

IS poetry held in higher regard!? I'm doubtful of that. Certainy as far as performance goes song seems to be the more popular. But now and then they can merge. here in the Black Country btwo very good artists have merged, Lozz Hipkiss renowned guitarist and top Black Country dialect Poet Billy Spakemon have combined their two talents to produce a most entertaining Folk act. You can catch them om You Tube as Billy & Lozz


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Subject: RE: Poetry exposure versus Folksong
From: The Sandman
Date: 07 Oct 14 - 04:38 PM

Subject: RE: Poetry exposure versus Folksong
From: GUEST,Jim Knowledge - PM
Date: 04 Oct 14 - 11:19 AM

I `ad that Betsy in my cab, `er face was thunderous and long.
She `ad `er tranny on full blast in search of folk music and song.
But try as may she could find none, even surfing Radio Three.
All she could find was Brahms or Bach, and a load of modern poetry.
She said, " `ere Jim, do you like verse, without no tunes, just funny rhymes?"
I said, "Course I do, they pay quite well if you can get `em in Radio Times!!"


Whaddam I Like???
BETSY IS A MAN NOT A WOMAN, furthermore he ia man from teeside where men are men,not namby pambiy southerners


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Subject: RE: Poetry exposure versus Folksong
From: The Sandman
Date: 07 Oct 14 - 05:16 PM

I ad that Betsy in my cab, it was the fourth of october in the year 2014, it was a MOONLIT night, as we crossed the silvery tay, I said Betsy pray tarry, If i write an ode parhaps we will marry this moonlit night on the fourth of october, when the night was so starry.


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Subject: RE: Poetry exposure versus Folksong
From: The Sandman
Date: 08 Oct 14 - 03:07 PM

yo


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Subject: RE: Poetry exposure versus Folksong
From: Northerner
Date: 09 Oct 14 - 11:56 AM

I sing folk songs, play ukulele, tell stories and write poetry. I have seen good performers in all these different artforms. Never tried songwriting though perhaps I should add the word "yet". Live poetry can be fun. Of course some poets aren't brilliant but equally I've heard songwriters whose songs put me to sleep.


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Subject: RE: Poetry exposure versus Folksong
From: FreddyHeadey
Date: 30 Oct 14 - 03:01 PM

Here, Betsy, John Finnemore's take on PoetryPlease, maybe these are the voices you hear too!
John Finnemore's Poetry Please

Sometimes PP has me riveted, sometimes I find it dreadful. I still find it worth a punt.

A couple of years ago they had a recording of Laurie Lee reading his Winter Poem (Tonight the wind gnaws with teeth of glass...). It was superb and I couldn't imagine it coming over in nearly the same way if it was a song. Or, indeed with an actor reading it.
Though it doesn't rhyme an enormous amount of craft has gone in to a poem like that.


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Subject: RE: Poetry exposure versus Folksong
From: GUEST,DTM
Date: 30 Oct 14 - 03:12 PM

Generally, I find poetry and its reciters boring - sorry.

However, if you add a tune to it .. well .. emm, that's different. ;-)


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Subject: RE: Poetry exposure versus Folksong
From: Musket
Date: 31 Oct 14 - 05:57 AM

That approach worked for Leonard Cohen I suppose..

Not to mention John Cooper Clarke.


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