Friday, 1 June 2012
Watching old YouTube clips: vacant rooms
Isley Brothers: Shout (1959)
Some time ago I put up film clip of Tommy James and the Shondells singing Mony Mony along with a poem about the song (the poem is still up on the front page of the website) and ever since then I have been tempted by the idea of writing poems for a number of such clips.
On what grounds would I choose them? What is the poetic of the clip?
Having written something over the last two days, then a verse for an occasion, then having met PhD student Nathan for a supervision in Norwich, and having tweeted a good many lines from Martin Bell, this Friday's neglected poet, I started searching YouTube and have put away a few for further consideration. They have certain things in common, though that may be coincidental in that one thing leads to another, and I might find quite different ones on another search.
The ones I have gathered are mostly older, mostly in black and white, like Mony Mony, and mostly of not high quality. A certain lack of quality seems to help. And it now occurs to me that while the songs are not necessarily those I responded to when they first came out, they do nevertheless point to a certain notional autobiography of feeling.
The autobiography of feeling is not the same as the autobiography of events. Much may have not happened, nevertheless there remains the sense that it might have or should have, that it might have filled a space that needed to be filled. It is as if feeling had vacant rooms you never even knew existed. Then something blows in and fills it, the space furnished and dreamlike.
So the poetic of the clip is based on an assumed or required but, possibly, never granted resonance. The poetic is as ever a matter of form, a form that falls short or overflows but somehow misses the mark. The poem then addresses that perceived form and tries to hold it and give shape to it.
These small personal matters, these private existential poetics, are an aspect of the world at large. They'd have to be or they wouldn't matter. They are part of what we know about the world, from its bedroom manners to its street politics.