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Showing posts from December, 2021

Review - High and Lonesome: Three Books: Crozier, Prynne, James

Andrew Duncan High and Lonesome : Three Books: John James, Striking the Pavilion of Zero, J.H. Prynne, High Pink on Chrome ; Andrew Crozier, High Zero (Shearsman, 2021; edited Ian Brinton)  The reason why these three books from 1975-6 and 1978 are being republished together is straightforward. Crozier had named a work High Zero , and when I interviewed him in 2003 he conceded that it referred to High Pink and Striking the Pavilion of Zero , and that he had used lines from those two works as keys to develop the High Zero poems from. Publication together allows one to read across and recover a part of the composition process. High Zero was published in 1978, later than the two poems it is a response to. The founding moment is The English Intelligencer , in which all three of these poets took part. This was an attempt to recapitulate the development of Charles Olson, up to about 1950; he was seen as both the continuator of Pound and as having thought profoundly about geography. T

Review - “How the Light Changes” by Steve Spence

Martin Stannard “How the Light Changes” by Steve Spence, pub. Shearsman. 95pp. It was William Carlos Williams, I believe, who said that a poem is a machine made out of words. But I don't think he meant that writing poems was a mechanical process, or that it was a good idea to make a bunch of poems using the same set of undistinguished but serviceable parts over and over again to the exclusion of variety and invention and imagination. Similarly, Mrs. Beeton, she of cook book renown, when writing of casseroles, would encourage the cook to use their imagination and vary their ingredients (perhaps beef one week, then flamingo the next) because she knew that the same casserole week in, week out would very rapidly bore the pants off people, and the family would soon be phoning for a takeaway. If we allow, not wholly frivolously, that a poem may be a casserole made out of words, Mr. Spence rarely varies his ingredients in the dishes offered here. There are 67 poems in this book, and a

Review - “Love & Other Fairy Tales” by Adam Horovitz

Steve Spence “ Love & Other Fairy Tales” by Adam Horovitz, pub. Indigo Dreams. 65pp. £10.00   I found an underlying melancholy throughout this collection which deals as much with history and the aftermath of warfare (both world wars appear in the background) as it does various kinds of love and friendship. The title can of course be read ironically and the ambiguity allows for a lot of literary allusion, as in the references to Arden ( As You Like It ) and to A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the second section. From the opening poem ‘Commemoration Hour’ we get the following:             but even the gentlest men will break inside           when bombs and snipers dictate their diet,             when all the animals of hell           come crawling out from under mud           on sinews of metal clasping at the bone.             What precisely did they die for,           or limp home wounded with?   A love of place is something which does feature throughout a

Review - "At Sounds Like: 3 Projects” by Mark Leahy

Steve Spence “At Sounds Like: 3 Projects” by   Mark Leahy, pub. if p then q   This new collection from Mark Leahy as the title suggests is in three sections, each with an introductory passage which gives a context to the processes involved. This is poetry which has a firm base in conceptual art yet the work produced has an element of entertainment and certainly of humour and shares common ground with the writing of let’s say Tom Jenks and Phil Terry (both published with if p then q) where the approach is experimental yet available to those with an open-mind to contemporary poetry. Leahy’s use of the homophone and of various technical procedures and indeed technical devices are not always immediately explicable but the end results are at best intriguing. I’m not always sure of the relation between ‘the project statement’ and the work itself but perhaps that’s not so important and it’s always useful to have some indication of how the material is engendered, especially with this kind

Paul Sutton - Poem

Paul Sutton WELWYN GARDEN CITY I I cannot think of anywhere less apt  to set – say – a ghost story or fable  of regeneration. But it haunts me  now, the boulevards billowing absurd cherry blossom, or the constant poplars,  gardens then allotments, and lone horses  in fields nobody owned (though somebody did). We don't know if everywhere from  childhood does this; I only have the one.  Imagine if Wordsworth had grown up here. Some daft sister, avowed book devourer,  who chronicled his conkers and fainted –  her stolen bike; his lost virginity!  It's useless. The place was an escape zone from Orwell's 'rotting nineteenth-century  houses' – my grandparents', in Shepherd’s Hill,   with rickety stairs and views to Archway. Teachers' faces, quiet optimism.  I grew up to fight with idealism,  middle class deceit over origins.  None of which matters now, at all, to me.  I also don't know if the violence  which meandered, natural as the Mimram,  was some thawing