What are the artistic reference points for today’s artists? How do exemplary works of art from the past inform their creativity? In this new series of Arts & Society forums, we invite artists in a variety of spheres to select a work of art and explain how it has influenced them. How has their chosen piece prompted them to emulate its achievement?
In the first of the series, ‘news poet’ Andrew Calcutt will introduce Antigone by the Ancient Greek tragedian Sophocles, translated as The Burial at Thebes by Seamus Heaney. Focusing on the messenger’s speech (a recurring feature in Greek tragedy), Andrew will explain how this directed him towards a new way of news reporting.
Greek tragedy enacts irreconcilable conflict – that is its content. Meanwhile, the form of tragedy puts the audience in a position to view such conflict not as partisans but as impartial spectators. Thus the birth of tragedy spurred the growth of our moral imagination.
After more than 40 years in journalism, Andrew Calcutt hopes that using the ‘heightened speech’ of poetry to re-write the news as ‘tragedy in small pieces’, will help to ‘rouse our imagination’ from the banality of the present-day.
Dr Andrew Calcutt is principal lecturer at the University of East London where he leads the BA (Hons) Journalism course.
We encourage you to read Heaney’s work before Andrew’s talk, but there is no requirement to do so.