English poet Michael Horovitz interviewed

This video is called London Liming: Michael Horovitz performs as part of Tilt @ Kings Place Festival 2009.

By Jody Porter in Britain:

Beating a path forward

Wednesday 07 March 2012

One of the original Beat poets,
performed alongside Allen Ginsberg and Adrian Mitchell at the infamous International Poetry Incarnation at the Royal Albert Hall in 1965.

He went on to found New Departures while still a student, publishing William S Burroughs, Samuel Beckett and Stevie Smith during his 50-year editorship.

Known as a champion of poetry as live performance, he still reads regularly in London and elsewhere, and works hard to bring younger poets greater exposure.

Horovitz’s most recent work A New Waste Land has been described as “a deeply felt clarion call from the radical underground.”

Like one of his key influences, Blake, he has not shied away from tackling political subjects and keeps a close eye on emerging poets with a flair for polemic.

“For a couple of years now myself, Melanie Abrahams and Adam Horovitz, my and the late Frances Horovitz’s son, have been gestating and co-editing an anthology of the younger poetic voices we have discovered, and who we consider to be among the most promising around Britain,” Horovitz said.

“To be published as Great-Grandchildren of Albion, it follows on from my 1969 Penguin anthology Children of Albion and its 1992 sequel Grandchildren of Albion, published by New Departures.

“Vital stage and page performers such as Niall McDevitt, Nathan Penlington, Jacob Sam la Rose, Tom Chivers, Caroline Bird, Aoife Mannix and Charlie Dark are included, as well as rising star singer-songwriter-poets Ayanna Witter-Johnson and Gwyneth Herbert,” he explains.

“Several of those just mentioned are extremely intense in addressing political subjects. Of particular interest would be McDevitt’s first collection B/W from Waterloo Press, and some of McGonagall‘s CDs – especially the incisive deconstruction of the ThatcherBlairCameron sellouts of even the pretense of social commitments in his inspired ventriloquism of all three’s weasly voices in You Can Call Me Dave,” Horovitz enthuses.

The recent funding cuts to the arts – and to poetry publishing in particular – have caused Horovitz deep frustration at how grassroots organisations have been consistently sidelined. “The article Charles Boyle commissioned me to write for the recent Free Verse Poetry Bookfair programme indicates – as the whole event did – the common outrage of most bona fide literary and arts workers at the ludicrous self-indulgences of smug so-called arts administrators.

“There were two main recent phases of cuts, each of which demonstrated the lack of contact with or concern for grassroots arts workers on the part of these self-approbating, overindulged and presumably overpaid bossfolk.

“I think of the then-Arts Council England chairman Christopher Frayling on the radio smarmily rationalising the massive and ill-substantiated cuts of a couple of years ago to the funding of dedicated community outfits such as the Bush Theatre and the London Magazine, as brilliantly edited by Sebastian Barker et al, on the supposed grounds that these crusading and underpaid workers had ‘run out of puff’,” Horovitz explains.

Earlier this year Frayling’s successor Liz Forgan announced that the ACE had the choice to either cut everyone who had till then been considered worthy of subsidy by a small percentage or to tear into particular publishers and other producers who had been going strong artistically but invariably would lose their continuity if their ACE funding was aborted, and Horovitz was not impressed.

“Forgan and her colleagues felt the slashing of the entire funding to lifelong poetry champions such as Arc, Enitharmon, Anvil and other presses, as well as the Poetry Trust and the Poetry Book Society, was the more sanguine course, and many of us despaired of this set in stone extension of the random and nepotistic money finaglings, promoted by so many slithey arts money manipulators over the last half century.

“It seems unlikely to ever recover any decent credibility or practical developments.”

THE ACTORS’ union Equity is angry as Arts Council and local authority funding cuts lay waste to theatres and arts organisations across Britain and the battle is on for policies to defend jobs and the arts: here.

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