Tuesday 16 January 2018

Heaney showed we need more poetry and less blah-de-blah blues

During all the Seamus Heaney coverage over the last week, a thought came to mind: wouldn't it be nice if art and poetry were discussed like this more often?

We had his words dissected, his impact analysed, his lyricism lauded and philosophy pondered. And this was happening on "mainstream" current affairs shows.

Of course, arts radio covers poetry, and other forms of culture. But here we had extended attention paid to a writer; and more, one ploughing his furrow in the least commercial form possible, poetry, which is only ever done for the love of words and the sake of itself.

How bad would it be if we had less blah-de-blah about the bloody economy, the troika, the HSE, political infighting or whatever – and more poetry and art on radio?

In fact, there's not even a need to eliminate the aforementioned, as they're all very important to our lives.

There's a ton of rubbish could be chopped from drivetime radio and no sane, mature person could possibly miss it. Anything to do with American politics, for starters, except a major scandal or presidential election result.

That's telling us who won, not two years of caucuses, primaries, debates and all that junk. Just the facts, ma'am, just the facts. We could also lose most of the sports stuff, especially interviews with dull-witted players and corporate-minded managers.

Anything to do with the Oscars, or any other award in any other field. Dreary reports on ghost estates and shoddy developments – we know all this. Pretty much everything Paddy O'Gorman reports on: he's a good guy but it's almost exactly the same story every week.

I say again: more art, that's what we need. In fairness RTÉ ran Heaney's full canon, read by him, across a full day on long-wave, to mark his 70th birthday in 2009.

And this week Arena (Radio 1) and Moncrieff (Newstalk) both had interviews with the great Margaret Atwood: grand dame of letters, a super novelist, and a droll and witty interview. George Lee's Business show even got in a mention of Electric Picnic.

But it's not enough. And to be honest, for those of us who need art like a fix of heroin, it's never enough.

dmcmanus@independent.ie

Irish Independent

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