Saturday, 31 December 2011

Sir Geoff

  Chuffed to read in the Guardian today that in the New Year's Honours List Geoffrey Hill has been awarded a Knighthood for his 'services to literature'.
   Respect at last for our Greatest Living Englishman.

Friday, 16 December 2011

'More than your subjective rot': Geoffrey Hill at the Barbican

Goeffrey Hill reading at the Barbican last Sunday was exhilarating and wholly affirming of the longevity of hard-hitting, deeply-wrought poetry. Rather than a coherent review I'll merely post a few of my post-performance notebook jottings, particularly trying to record Hill's frequently very amusing between-poem remarks: "It isn't stand-up comedy; they're not paying me stand-up comedy rates...I've written 8 books since 2007; could it be dementia, I often wonder? It could well be ...I tell myself as long as I can write in strict forms - such as the Sapphic odes of Odi Barbari, Clavics derived from Vaughn and Herbert, or the rhyming quatrains of my forthcoming Daybooks-  then I'm still somehow in control...if you have read my books you won't be surprised by what I'm reading today; if not - if you've just drifted in out of the rain, then - you have my sympathy....my work is like iron spikes in a blasted landscape, like the paintings of Anselm Keifer which I think have been an influence on me and the poems of Paul Celan which Kiefer has so admired...this Anselm Keifer -Paul Celan tradition of art is weird and unlovely and has nothing common with Poetry Please! Thanks to The Economist for making Clavics one of its Books of the Year, fitting it should be in a publication in which a phrase lihe 'plutocratic anarchy' or 'anarchistic plutocracy' (which comes from William Morris ) might be used - as that is what in England we have now, an anarchistic plutocracy ...I finish with Hopkins' sonnet on our national genius Purcell (since the reading took place in the Purcell Rooms) ...I've always taken inspiration from the phrase that Hopkins used to one of his correspondents when they said they didn't understand this sonnet: ' it means something more than your subjective rot'..."
      Hill's reading was followed by an Echoes of Geoffrey Hill event in the foyer, in which James Byrne impressed, both with judiciously-timed voicings of Hillian poems from his most recent volume Blood/Sugar and with drafts of several new ambitious pieces from a satirical sequence called 'Soapboxes'. I enjoyed Niall McDevitt's readings of his own poems, such as the excellent sestina 'Wittgenstein in Ireland', but when he began intoning his settings of Hill's 'The Pentecost Castle' with the aid of a tambourine/burren, it was my time to leave.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

long poem

Like the Pist and Giths editors, I am also (and wholly coincidentally)linking to Long Poem Magazine on this site - futhermore I have the ulterior motive of having a somewhat lengthy text in the next edition. There's a launch at the Barbican Library on Jan 15th  - let's just survive the festive saison en enfer first...

Monday, 5 December 2011

Christopher Logue Has Died

 Another of the seminal figures of post-war British poetry, Christopher Logue, has died at the weekend aged 85. The importance and enduring worth of his Iliad versions can hardly be over-stated, but his Selected Poems (Faber) equally shows a varied and lively intelligence at work, never content to stick with one style or tone.
    He also lead a colourful, chequered life, as his highly readable autobiography Prince Charming (also Faber) details. Many of his adult years were passed in Notting Hill, just up the road from where I live, in Denbigh Close (just off Portobello Road). He bought his house for a song back in the 50s when - believe it or not - Notting Hill was a shabby, working-class district and a "mews" still denoted its earlier sense of a row of stables, with living quarters above.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

john fahey

  Love the open-tuned droney momentum of this,played with Fahey's characteristic amalgam of meticulousness and passion.
  Interesting what he says at the end, that its 'a quote from Holst's The Planets'. I'm not up on my Holst, so if someone can identify a connection between Red Pony and The Planets please let me know. (Fahey could well have been taking a rise out of the nice young woman, of course.)