Sunday, 10 October 2010

Poetry & TV, prose & papier mache

Did you watch The Song of Lunch on BBC2 last weekend? Do poetry and television drama work together? The poem by Christopher Reid presented the meeting of a pair of former lovers on a lunch date from the point of view of the (sad, sorry for himself and eventually drunken) man in an interior monologue. So there, for me, is an example of crossing disciplines (or media) that did not work. Much of it did just what we have to drum into the heads of our writers NOT to do -- it told what we could see for ourselves. Sometimes it told, and then showed the same thing. Sometimes showed and then told. So... it was slow and frustrating and un-engaging and gave me too much time to dislike the narrator character.

Oh well, it did give me new insights into what I do want in drama. And in what not to do with poetry, or at least with this particular poem in this particular way (however, the photography was excellent and Emma Thompson looked wonderful). You could think of talking to your students about this kind of artistic experience -- sometimes it can be easier to appreciate the craft of creating via something that is flawed: what's wrong with it and why? Also, allowing for debate: some people may have loved The Song of Lunch!

But I bring up this crossing of disciplines because I wanted to share another cross, one that I have found useful, much to my surprise. I took up sculptural papier mache three years ago -- that is, not kiddy-stuff masks and bowls, but wire-armatured figures (though anything goes among this marvellous group of artists). I wanted a different creative outlet, a WORDLESS, PUL-EEZE!, creativity. And gradually, as I learned it and loved it, I found it helped my writing. Because the work demonstrated to me the patience and confidence I did not have in my writing.

Hmmm, I can sense that this blog entry is going to go on far too long if I begin now to tell you what papier mache taught me about writing -- so I will make you wait until next week. I will also link it to the classroom so that it can be of direct use to you. I promise, the benefit is NOT making use of one's crumpled-up and abandoned writing drafts as papier with which to mache!

Just for fun, some of my story-figures are on my site if you want to see. A good website for a worldwide gallery of creative papier mache is

1 comment:

Helen Yendall said...

I did watch 'The Song of Lunch' and I have to say - I loved it! I agree there was lots of 'telling not showing' but I liked the idea of a poem being brought to life before my eyes. I probably couldn't have taken much more than 45 mins because it was rather 'intense' but I enjoyed it -it was a different television experience! My partner - who is not a poet or a writer - enjoyed it too. And then, of course, there was the added attraction of the delicious Alan Rickman to gaze at(not a likeable character, though I agree)! The acting was superb, Emma Thompson looks better and better.. and well, I just enjoyed it!