Thursday, July 31, 2008

Latitude Festival 2008

For those who're interested, included below are links to the reviews, articles and interviews I wrote whilst at the Latitude Festival this year, held in the beautiful grounds of Henham Park, Suffolk.

I may edit this post at some point to give a blog-style insight into the goings on at the festival, including the bands, comedians, writers and artists I saw outside of reviewing commitments.

As one happy and half-cut festival goer put it: Pimms me up to the power of two!


Thursday ~ Poetry and Literary Arenas

Rosie and the Goldbug ~ Sunrise Arena

Friday ~ Poetry Arena

The Go! Team ~ Obelisk Arena

Friday ~ Literary Arena

Saturday ~ Poetry Arena

Rich Hall ~ Comedy Arena

Daljit Nagra ~ Interview

Tim Turnbull ~ Interview

Saturday ~ Literary Arena

Sunday ~ Poetry Arena

Saturday, July 26, 2008

What's Up Darlin'?



OK, OK... I know there are easier targets to pick on in the world of hackneyed, cliché-ridden song lyric writing than the otherwise talented Dizzee Rascal. I'm actually a pretty big fan of some of his work, particularly 'Fix Up, Look Sharp' from his precociously impressive first album, Boy in da Corner, and the unfortunately titled but belting Brit-hop Grime single 'Pussy'Ole (Old Skool)' from his third release, Maths + English.

But this little snippet of comedy gold is just too good to ignore, revealing as it does the way in which music artists half-disguise such lyrical junk with their vocalisations - which in Dizzee's case, is through rapid-fire, often double dutch style rapping. Get a well-spoken, middle-class radio presenter called Carrie to 'rap' along to the song's tune, however, and what makes for highly danceable Brit-hop descends into the complete farce it lyrically is, and not just because the girl can't rap or sing. I'd recommend watching the original Rascal version (below), before you listen to the Radio 1 spoof (above).



All this, then, and Michael Horovitz was still banging on last week in the Guardian book blogs about 'stuffy academics' ignoring the 'poetry' of Bob Dylan. What Horovitz, like so many others, fails to acknowledge is that there's a reason why the man himself was once so uneasy about critics trawling his lyrics alone for subtext and deeper meanings. You can belittle Germaine Greer as a person (or indeed, academic) all you like, then, but her much-publicised line on song lyrics as poetry is still right, and I'm yet to hear a compelling argument against it: they're not, 'cause all song lyrics collapse without the music they're set to whereas a good poem creates its own music through the rhyme and rhythm of language alone. As I said on this blog a year back, the good poem possesses a singularity that song lyrics - being what they are - lack. Good to see that the majority of reader responses to Horovitz's article were level-headed and considered in their defence of the thrust of Germaine's intelligent standpoint, then.

Oh, and I should point out that I don't think 'Dance Wiv Me' is hilariously solely because it happens to feature that detestable chap Calvin Harris. Not solely.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

C'est la vie


Today: As well as research and reading for a review and a critical perspective, two new poems that a) emerged quite quickly and b) after tinkering and editing later in the day, I am happy with.

Tomorrow: The realisation that said poems require a lot of work, or worse, that they are irredeemably crap. The consolations of yesterday's research, remaining as it does useful and - more or less - intact.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Michael Hofmann


Just a bit of news in the form of my critical perspective of Anglo-German Faber poet Michael Hofmann's work going up on the British Council's Contemporary Writers website, here.

Later in the week, I'll hopefully find time to do a write-up of the music and poetry goings-on at Latitude Festival (see post below).

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Give a little Latitude


Yup, it's that time of year again... When those festival goers amongst us with exceptional taste head out to the Suffolk countryside, ready to enjoy three days of the best music, poetry, literature, film, cabaret and comedy this country - and beyond - has to offer.

And this year's Latitude Festival, due to take place from Thursday 17th to Sunday 2oth July - as impossible a feat as it may sound - promises to be even better than last time around. Regular Wasteland readers (Hello? Hello...?) will recall that I reviewed the festival for the organisers last year, as part of a team writing reviews, round-ups, features and interviews that were posted on the festival's website throughout the weekend. Back then we were treated to the likes of CSS, Rodrigo Y Gabriela, Patrick Wolf, Bat for Lashes and Canadian alt-rock giants Arcade Fire on the music bill, as well as top comedians including Bill Bailey, Russell Howard and Michael McIntyre, not to mention excellent writers and literary performers including Simon Armitage, John Hegley, Roger McGough and the indefatigable compere skills of stand-up poet Luke Wright. It was an excellent weekend thanks to the performers above and a whole load more, as well as Latitude's ethos of good quality food, drink and facilities and a relaxing, fun environment (including those trademark multi-coloured sheep). Those who want a taster of what was on offer, then, should head to the old site and check out the articles here.

But this year... well, there's familiar faces and a whole load more. You'd be forgiven for thinking that in reviewing the festival I might have a vested interest in promoting it, but having been to a good number of the major festivals in this country, Latitude was - honestly - a breath of fresh air last year. So much on offer and so much of it totally unmissable. Unlike many festivals where the headliners are almost always the highlight of the weekend (i.e. you get exactly what you pay for), Latitude's highlights came in all shapes and sizes (i.e. I never thought I'd enjoy a bizarre five-piece guitar cabaret outfit called the Bikini Beach Band launching into a chilled, Beach Boys-esque cover of grunge classic 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' as much as Arcade Fire finishing their set with the brilliant 'Rebellion (Lies)').

So this time around there's the likes of Franz Ferdinand, The Mars Volta, Foals, Sigur Ros, Elbow, Seasick Steve and Interpol on the music side of things, Ros Noble, Bill Bailey, Omid Djalili, Frankie Boyle and Stewart Lee among the comedians, and Carol Ann Duffy, Tim Turnbull, Daljit Nagra, Iain Banks and Irvine Welsh performing on the literary and stand-up poetry arenas. No wonder I'm really looking forward to reviewing it again. Do keep your eyes peeled for articles as they go up throughout the weekend on the festival's new website. And enjoy the festival if you managed to get tickets before they sold out!