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Five a Week 10: Some Things to Read & Think About


I could not find the perfect article to link to relating to the awful events in Manchester last week so am sharing this photo, taken over an unexpectedly al fresco breakfast last Thursday. (Still under a fiver too, gentrification not swept all aside just yet.) The image being photographed is ‘signed’ Dubek, and was being snapped constantly. I also like the message in the background, of the people gathered round a flipchart sheet stuck to the window…

1. THE STATE OF POETRY CRITICISM
This is an admirably detailed look at patterns of reviewing of new poetry in relation to ethnicity and gender, by the critic Dave Coates. (If you want detailed examinations of new poetry his blog should be regular reading.) It shows – totally unsurprising spoiler alert! – ‘how ingrained is the culture of structural racism and misogyny’. There are some depressing little stats, as well as typical close reading of situations and reviews that reveal how limited a tool quotas can be. That the Guardian went 446 days without reviewing a poet of colour sits in the context of its poor coverage of poetry at all (especially that which does not win prizes) does not make it any more excusable.

2. WRONG KIND OF ASIAN, WRONG KIND OF WORK
This blog by theatre director Tanuja Amarasuriya strikes hard at the idea of ‘authenticity’ in artistic identity, in a way that may not sit exactly with some of Dave Coates’ arguments. It speaks from frustration at being boxed in, boxed out and finding a voice that is properly acknowledged. Amarasuriya argues for ‘noticing difference as a subtle and individual thing. Not a genre. It’s hard to express how pervasive the idea of what it means to be an authentic artist of colour is, and how destabilising and isolating it can feel to be an artist of colour who does not fit that mould.’

3. MASTER OF NONE
One of my current favourite cultural artefacts that ‘notices difference as a subtle and individual thing’ is Aziz Anzari’s Netflix series, Master of None. This article by
Anna Leszkiewicz starts by examining the feeling of unreality we might have observing the lifestyle, but moves on to appreciate the richness of what is being done in the programme – and. note, she does it without actually mentioning Bourdieu. If you’ve seen the programme, and know me, you’ll know why I’m currently resisting moving to Modena to make pasta. (NB: there is a big spoiler towards the end of this, though you can see it coming in the programme.)

4. WHAT ARE WE COUNTING?
Roger Tomlinson has some very pertinent questions about Arts Council’s Quality metrics system, written from the point of view of an advocate of audience data and as someone able to ask what nervous NPO staff may not feel confident enough to. The questions are useful for thinking through future responses to the metrical requirements, as well for Arts Council.

5. ARCHIVE CHOICE: EXPERIENCES OF EXCELLENCE
An excursion outside our own archives to an article that Jaime Buttrick of Consilium and I wrote for Arts Professional on the publication of What It Does to You: Excellence in CPP. A three-word summary of our position: reflection over measurement.

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