Monday, 16 February 2009

Sharpie in my hand:

If you walk through the garden, you better watch your back....

The dictionary definition of poetry is (according to at least) is :
"the art of rhythmical composition, written or spoken, for exciting pleasure by beautiful, imaginative, or elevated thoughts." But what exactly is poetry?

It seems at the moment I am going from story to story. Whether is it watching the first hour of Day Watch on DVD, reading Stephen Fry's America, playing the first ten minutes of Need For Speed Undercover; Prince of Persia; Tomb Raider Underworld; or Shaun White; or significantly watching The Wire seasons 3 and 4. But which, of any of these are poetry? Each of them excite, or at least engage for some time, each use the imagination, but only one elevates....

Basically this entry is about The Wire. For those that have not seen, or heard of it, it is a now complete TV series which aired on HBO in the states and from what I know, cable channels over here. I think I had heard about it a couple of years ago by name but didn't know anything more. Then recently (I think because the final season came out on DVD finally) it started to seep more and more into my consciousness. It seems that the writers for the Guardian website started writing about how it was great, from essays on its themes to sports writers referring to second division football players as Jimmy McNaulty (the main character). Without much though I bought the first season, and haven't looked back since. Yesterday I completed season 3 and woke up thinking about it more than I have about any piece of fiction for years. It isn't that season 3 is the best, I mean season 1 is classic and season 4 is shaping up to be awesome ( I am four episodes in), but something about the way the case closed and the characters turned as the credits closed was so so......poetic.

Starting season 4 today seemed to add to this idea. One of the minor story lines of 3 is that (spoiler alert) Prez leaves the force. He starts 4 out as a teacher at his first school. We start to see snippets of him failing to control a classroom full of teenagers (it ain't as easy as it is on TV), one of the biggest problems is him being a white polish American trying to get the attention of a class of African Americans on the West Side of Baltimore where the only white figures they ever come across are Police (ironicly the only thing Prez knows to be). By episode 4 it gets worse, one of his students attacks another with a blade in class and hell lets loose. But this isn't the poetry. The poetry of the whole series is the way that all the details are real and evocative. In one scene Prez tries to teach the class how to work out a simple Math problem, but his stance is all wrong. He is trying to physically climb into the black board he is standing against. From what is he saying he is trying to get across to them, to "connect" with the class, but his physical mannerisms are giving him away. More than anything he says or does we know how he feels, the struggle he is failing to fight. There are many teaching films out there, some do better than others, but in a 30 second scene we see the centre of the issue more than before. The thing is that I am a teacher, but if I was a port worker I could relate with the struggles in season 2; if I were an alcholic I would see the struggles McNaulty goes through; and the list goes on. Everything about the whole show is real.

I don't actually want to watch TV again, because it won't be as good as The Wire. Watch it.


ForgottenSmile said...

Day Watch! What a legendary film, so is night watch. And as for The Wire, I will defo watch it! Heard of it from my cousin but never gave it a look in.

olewis said...

I just read your comment on Gemma's George and Lennie post, I didn't know you were a Whose Line Is It Anyway? fan! anyway, Day Watch is just a bunch of Russian vampires, Stephen Fry is pure genius, Need for Speed is played purely by car theives, Prince of Persia is played by HISTORY teachers who want to control time, Tomb Raider is gaming gold, Shaun White just can't ski properly and don't even get me started on The Wire, if you want characters everyone can relate to, read Of Mice and Men!