Story and Performancer The Oral Tradition

Performance poetry also shares something with the art of narrative enactment. Asked about the influences on his writing, Adrian Mitchell comments, 'I think it goes back to the ballads. I can recall the impact of Sir Patrick Spens. It was that simplicity you find in the old ballads.then later came the attraction of the voice, the delivery' (Munden, 1999:32). In oral traditions, songs and ballads declare that something worth our attention has happened. We know the story already, yet whenever the piece is delivered its world pushes aside the stream of unshaped time, replacing it with an inkling of the extraordinary. Writing about Irish Lament poetry and the oral tradition, Aileen La Tourette sees these forms in terms of a physical act:

I can imagine the poet, the keener; recalling the dead person with all the passion they could summon, and then, in a quieter voice, gently laying them to rest. I imagine the act of corporate keening, the repetition of a cry, as a healing, energetic, physical act.. It lies, like all performance poetry perhaps, on some kind of cusp of drama, ritual, dance—I imagine a swaying and bending of the body—where words meet actions and form gestures and postures almost inextricable from the syllables themselves.

Reacting to the momentous, enacting it, the emphasis falls on 'recalling.summoning.where words meet actions.'—the dead are brought to life, then laid to rest, in forms of 'ritual, dance'. Statement is there, yet a statement enacted, as in this poem about Art:

Paintings should not be locked up in galleries Or pinned to walls with nails of steel. Paintings should not be dormant and dusted Sad as last year's Christmas cracker They should be released, set free Live in trees in sunlit France Be invited to balls football matches symphony concerts orgies and outings They should wave to people in the street

The poet John Mole has explained that 'the very act of writing itself, with its continually renewed challenge, becomes my performance' (Munden, 1999:48)—as though a poem itself were an event, a moment of challenge. In the passage above by Peter Dixon, paintings become events, or like people set free in a world their presence passionately transforms. The poet is using a sense of story. A new world of story is required. The ordinary world of paintings locked in galleries needs story, action, some new event or change of state.

0 0

Post a comment