With Mark off playing cricket this evening I decided to watch the kind of the thing I record especially for when he's out or otherwise occupied – the first of the series 'A Poet's Guide to Britain' from BBC4. Sorlil's been watching programme two (the Plath one) but I'm a bit behind her, I'm afraid (though you can still watch both programmes one and two somewhere over here if the mood takes you).
The first programme is about William Wordsworth and his poem 'Upon Westminster Bridge' and I watched it partly to see if it could stimulate my interest in Wordsworth (which is fairly minimal...to non-existent). I keep trying – reading the poems, reading posts by enthusiasts (such as you Solitary Walker – here's an example), trying to overcome my own prejudices, thinking daft things like 'well he loved walking and I love walking...'. So, half an hour of culture TV – did it help at all?
Well, it was a weird programme. It felt a bit like it was made for schools TV (quite slow and basic and...well...flat) but that might be partly down to the presenter poet/writer Owen Sheers who has more than a hint of Blue Peter about him (excessive youth, awkward hands, various fleecey jackets). There was far too much “and then William went to France and then he went back to England” (OK...not real quotes...) and it all felt a bit like a 5th form essay (though I'm not anti-Sheers – I very much liked his prose book 'The Dust Diaries' – think I even sent him a letter about it...I do that a lot). The highlight of the programme though was easily poet Simon Armitage's thoughts on the Wordsworth poem (remember how I liked Armitage back at StAnza earlier this year?). If nothing else I think this may be the year I learn to see what all the fuss is about old Simon Floppy Fringe Armitage. All the fuss about Wordsworth though...I've still not really got to that one. Maybe I never will. His poems just make me want to edit like crazy ("cut that bit out, for god's sake!" and "do you have to go on and on...?” and “blah, blah, blah...economy, man, economy and surprise!”) and I know, I know...it was a different era. Still his poems press my shut-down button like little else. And that Westminster Bridge poem – it's just Shakespeare with all the fun and vigour taken out of it...isn't it? Really?
Now, is that sacrilege or sage-like wisdom? Any views?
5 hours ago