Sunday, 20 January 2013

Forget Coal - Ifor Thomas

After discussing this with some friends I thought a need to spread the word of this excellent poem from 'Stalking Paloma'

Forget Coal - Ifor Thomas

Forget coal, yea really forget coal
(I've forgotten already - what is coal?)
Forget zinc and tin and definitely steel.
Steel doesn't exist any more
not in Wales anyway.
Who cares - who needs it?
And while you are at it
forget washing machines
plane wings and slim-line TVs.
That's not the future.
That's not where Wales is.
It's not where Merthyr is.
Not even where Llanrst is.
(I've not put that in to rhyme with Proust.
That ain't where this is going.
We don't meed any intellectual literary bullshit.
Not now, not any more)

The future
It's all about big zins, big cabs
and big, big concepts...

          Applets for a variety of emerging iPlatforms
           Start-ups that provide hosting
           for micro-packages that skim information
           for cheese heads
           Honking away on a widget that that will
           fuse users' ganglia to the cortex of the
           digital brain stem.

The business of Wales, is not business.
It's monetizing what is in our heads,
that leaves a lot of room for wusses
like me, and you too.

Get with the program!

I've heard it argued that good poetry, the stuff that will be remembered, captures the spirit of the age and I think this piece not only does that but sets a challenge for poetry to come.

Ifor starts by invoking the industries of wales like pagan gods and ordering you to forget them, as there time in Wales has been and gone. Hinting at how the nature of our globe in that what is forgotten is thriving elsewhere. How instantaneous provision of knowledge means we don't need to remember beyond the present.

The line we don't need any of this literary bullshit, not only speaks of the cult of celebrity evolving through mediums such as reality TV and social networking that is more interested in how people inhabit their world rather than what they make from it and also suggests the time for flowery language and pomp is over in this technological age.

The production of ridiculous jargon like cheese heads, not only makes us laugh but raises the question of how our language is going to change. Did anyone expect Tweeting to become a regularly used verb?

The real challenge however is the final stanza; we aren't concerned with business anymore, it is about monetizing what is in our heads. There are more and more stories emerging about e-commerce, whether it is people making their fortune designing apps for phones or becoming advertising affiliates. High Street stores such as HMV are going into administration because they can't compete with the lure and power of the online retailers. Even sociology is looking to jump in on the act, trying to suggest that the latest generation should be renamed Generation C for their obssessive desire for content and to connect with others in the online world.

However you look at it the shape of our world is changing rapidly and poets need to 'get with the program' and evolve or be lost behind youtube videos, online gaming and twitter feeds.

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