Thursday, 23 October 2008

Manchester Blog Awards

There’s probably a difference between a supportive community of writers and a clique, but at last night’s Manchester Blog Awards, as we watched people from the same table get up to collect all the awards, laugh in just the right places, and reward what were on the whole mediocre offerings, I wasn’t sure which was which.

There are some really good blogs written in and about Manchester but any verve and talent in the actual writing was killed in mumbled, self-conscious or self-congratulatory delivery. For a medium which is ungoverned, unedited and free, is there any point criticising? Probably not, but when you start giving awards for the thing, you invite a critique. They chose the wrong winners for a start, evidenced in part by the reaction of the crowd and the vox pops of the people I interrogated. The few that is who had actually heard of or read any of the blogs. Do your homework people!

With the exception of this person

who is a fucking genius, the readings, in my humble opinion, were flat, ill-chosen and uninteresting. Other adjectives loaned to me were ‘whimsical’, ‘trite’ and ‘woefully middle-class’. They didn’t hold the attention of the audience who got increasingly rowdy, impatient and talkative while the readers mumbled about coffee and home appliances. Nobody had the good sense to ask the noisy bastards, not even via the conveniently-placed microphone, to please shut the fuck up while people were reading. I love DIY culture, but shambolic and homemade doesn’t have to mean a shambles, does it?

Praise for the event has started to appear, I’m sure it will continue, no doubt including from people I spoke to last night who were much more honest after a few pints but freely admitted they probably couldn’t say what they really thought. Therein lies the trap of a supportive community of writers; you can’t say what you really think. What the hell are blogs for, if not that?

After the astonishingly good writing I witnessed at the Manchester Writer's evening at the Deaf Institute on Sunday it was a shame that even the published work, I mean really proper published-in-books published stuff, was weaker than the online material that was read out. Was it all just poorly chosen? What a disappointment. Still, we had a fucking fantastic time. Coco, I love you, you were robbed.

Before the criticisms roll in (as if anyone reads this!) yeah I did nominate myself in every single category, partly to prove how elastic they were, and no I didn’t win anything. Turns out someone else nominated me too though, so thankyou. This isn’t sour grapes though, I promise.


Helen of... said...

For what it's worth, I agreed with you then and I agree with you now.

Coco LaVerne said...

Dearest Gregling,
How very brave and admirable of you to put your opinion 'out there'. Such a rare thing these days to see a young man able to articulate himself so efficiently.

In my humble opinion the wonder and uniqueness of blogging is so perfectly idiosyncratic that when one performs it to an audience, the text becomes a script and unfortunately many of the readers required some direction. As any actor would tell you, a director is able to bring out the best of a performer and I believe some theatrical tools would have enriched the audiences experience and as result held its attention. Though these are blogs designed for reading at ones convenience not scripts, is this the problem with readings?

The environment though charming did appear to hamper the proceedings and as a consequence sound quality was compromised. The occasion I accept did require acknowledgement of its purpose though I wonder if some reduction in actual readings would have been beneficial. Being the social butterfly that I am I did find it slightly frustrating that I was not able to mingle more freely. Though that I suppose is the problem, was it a Award ceremony or get together?

In terms of the excerpts themselves I did find some rather impenetrable, though this may simply be a symptom of the reasons above. The wonder of humanity is that you are all different though I wonder if the average Manchester blogger reflects a particular type. Though I know that I do not reflect this type and I know that E.P Niblock does not and I also sense that neither do you. We are on the edge of a mini mainstream and I suspect it is our job to challenge this new form of writing. it is yet another area of the liberal heteronormative mass that we must charm and challenge simultaneously.

Though Thank God and Kate Feld, as at least something is happening, if it hadn't we would never had met.

I think it remarkable and bizarre that I was even nominated let alone shortlisted I thank you for the nod in my direction on your post above. For the record I nominated you in at least one category....

"small steps"

Much Love Ms Coco LaVerne

Gregling said...

Seeing you guys made the evening fab for me, we have to get together again, so thanks Lynds and thanks Coco for such an erudite and lovely response.

I very nearly took the post down tbh as I think I sounded bitchy and ungrateful and that's not really what I am or felt, more frustrated and excluded. But it's true to the nature of blogging that I can fire just what I feel into the 'sphere and `let it go!

I should have made a point of saying how nice it is that people care enough to organise such an event and for that I was really grateful. More mingling would've been fun I agree. I am a social butterfly too and that usually seems to be at odds with the humble writer hunched over the typewriter emerging occasionally blinking into the light. It's as if Bukowski, Acker, Kerouac and Dylan Thomas never happened!