Given ongoing debates about sex and ethnic balances in sf anthologies, here's a row on US poetry, complaining about multiculturalism over quality:
I've already consulted Dr K on this, but the other week one of the Guinness crew offered a moment akin to the moment a scientist reads Eliot's "Tradition and the Individual Talent" and says, no, that's not what happens when you introduce a filament of platinum into a chamber containing sulpherdioxide and oxygen (Eliot claims sulpheric acid is produced - presumably by some alchemical process which craps on his metaphor about the writing of poetry):

Philip Larkin - This Be The Verse

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another's throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don't have any kids yourself.

I've always assumed that a coastal shelf is a sudden drop - hence "deepens" - and that the misery increases precipitously, maybe even geometrically.

But coastal shelves are flat - or at least so slightly inclined that deepens seems too strong a word.

Next: how invisible worms fly.
faustus: (Culture)
( Feb. 4th, 2011 03:33 pm)
The secret of Rochester being a bestseller - because, after all, Rochester's own poetry was so clean cut and innocent.

ETA: note this story, awfully close to the phrasing in the Grauniad -

Apparently Rochester wrote anti-porn. YMMV
faustus: (Default)
( Oct. 7th, 2010 10:15 am)
In honour of Michael Gove, some John Dryden:

For ancient Decker Prophecy'd long since,
That in this Isle should Reign a mighty Prince,
Born for a Scourge of Wit, and Flaile of Sence;
To whom true Dulness should some Psyche's owe,
But Worlds of Misers from his Pen should flow:
Humorists and Hypocrite's his Pen should produce
Whole Raymond Families and Tribes of Bruce;
Now Empress Fame had Publish'd the Renown
Of Shad---s Coronation through the Town;
Rous'd by report of Pomp, the Nations meet
From near Bunhill, to distant Watling street;
No Persian Carpet spread th'Imperial way,
But scattered Limbs of Mangled Poets lay;
From Dusty Shops neglected Authors come,
Martyrs of Pies, and Reliques of the Bum;
Much Heywood, Shirly, Ogilby, there lay,
But Loads of Shad--- almost Choak'd the way;
Bilk'd Stationers for Yeomen stood prepar'd,
And Herringman was Captain of the Guard;
The Hoary Prince in Majesty appear'd
High on a State of his own Labors rear'd;
At his Right-Hand our young Ascanius Sate,
Romes other Hope, and Pillar of the State;
His Brows thick Fogs, instead of Glories-Grace,
And Lambent Dulness plaid about his Face.
faustus: (Culture)
( May. 10th, 2010 02:13 pm)
Marilyn Hacker is The Grauniad's Poet of the Week
1) I was convinced I had packed my not Star Wars tshirt and had laid it out on my hotel bed so as not to pack it. I am deluded in one of my suppositions.*

2) At Christmas 2008 my aunt bought my five pairs of socks, which are identical, aside from coloured tips to the toe, and a stripe at the top of the ankle. Assuming I grabbed six socks, how many different colours do I have?**

3) The Guardian, being The Guardian, is giving away Romantic Poetry supplements and, being The Guardian, has collections of Joanna Baillie, Mary Wollstonecraft, Charlotte Smith, Anna Laetitia Barbauld, Mary Robinson, John Clare and Helen Williams, rather than perpetuating Romanticism as six blokes and Burns because it's that time of year.***

The Answers (No Cheating Now) )
-- Thomas M. Disch

Look at the map and tell me where
A conscious mind would not despair.
In Poland? Palestine? Peru?
In Angkor Wat? In Timbuktu?
Twist as you will upon the grid
Of North, South, East, and West, amid
Whatever fleshpots Rome may boast,
Or safe at home with buttered toast,
At least it all comes down to this --
The world's too big for bombs to miss,
The law too weak, the door too wide
To forestall every suicide.
While there are motive, means, and time,
There will, as sure as death, be crime.
Our hope must be that those who've got
The right, or guns, to have us shot
Will set a limit to their catch
And feel no need to fire the thatch;
That just as long as power buys
Good opera seats and alibis
The guilty rich will be content
Still to convene their Parliament,
Still to resist the urge to wreak
Some vengeance on their heirs, the meek.
How like the thief's benign reprieve,
Who'd spare our lives and only thieve,
So long as we do not protest
We even may enjoy the jest.
This is the social contract we
In 1986 A.D.
Must live by if we mean to live,
Committing sins we can't forgive
With every coffee bean we grind,
And every heart, and every mind.
(For surely if you've wit to trace
A line of logic through this lace
Of verses, you're among the few
Who're well -- or well-enough -- to-do
And can't too bitterly complain;
For thoughtful minds are free of pain
To the degree that they can think
And alchemize their thoughts to ink.
Happy the man who can declare
His angst with any savoir faire.
More happy still if he repine
Over a five-buck jug of wine.)
How swiftly, ably fear deflects
The squeamish eye away from texts
So dire toward each bright ad's plea
For booze and equanimity.
Internalized that turns the eye
And tunes the slavish tongue to praise
Our meted lengths of rope and days?
Laud we the god, for yet we breathe,
And hang in heaven a smoky wreath
Of thanks for yielding yet a year
More to the time we're sentenced here.
Between the jailer and the jailed
There's no hope lost. The god that failed
To intervene at Buchenwald
Will not decide to be appalled
At infamies that shall be nameless.
That god is dead, and history aimless
Enough of peeling New Year's chimes.
I want my coffee and The Times.
faustus: (Culture)
( Oct. 9th, 2009 10:41 am)
Did you love well what very soon you left?
Come home and take me in your arms and take
away this stomach ache, headache, heartache.
Never so full, I never was bereft
so utterly. The winter evenings drift
dark to the window. Not one word will make
you, where you are, turn in your day, or wake
from your night toward me. The only gift
I got to keep or give is what I've cried,
floodgates let down to mourning for the dead
chances, for the end of being young,
for everyone I loved who really died.
I drank our one year out in brine instead
of honey from the seasons of your tongue.

faustus: (Default)
( Oct. 8th, 2009 10:12 am)
Brisingamen drew my attention to a news story by asking us to name 10 women poets. Fortunately, I quickly came up with at least twelve.

Cut to preserve Brisingamen's purposes )
faustus: (Culture)
( Oct. 3rd, 2009 01:25 am)
I walk past a woman with a pink backpack and a turqoise/green scarf on campus. Is that her? What would be the chances?

I nearly didn't make it - plan a had been to get to campus for noon, but then the bath overran, and it seemed sensible to have lunch, and listen to Deefback, and then, because I was tired, to have a little lie down. It was gone three by the time I caught the bus, the traffic was heavy and the level crossing against me. But still, campus achieved, and library entered.

The main item of the agenda was to see a lecture by Marilyn Hacker with Brisingamen. I'm not quite sure when I first read her, but I must have bought a collection of her poems second hand having read Delany's The Motion of Light in Water. I'd like to bet I'd look at Love, Death and the Changing of the Seasons prior to that, in Sheridan's. And now a chance to hear her live, twice.

Having failed to find a book in the suspicious gap between HQ600 and HQ1200 (I wanted HQ1154), I adjourned to the Carbuncle, where Brisingamen was already there, and recognised me by my feet. Scary, with new Death baseball boots as well. After a chat we wandered over to the lecture theatre.

The guy doing the introduction - presumably someone senior in the faculty, introduced the TS Eliot Memorial Lecture, and noted how he hoped they'd have great speakers in the future. Way to insult your current speaker. Hacker was also to discuss a different topic from the one advertised - translating poetry.

This she described as the continuation as the struggle (with language) by other means, the struggle with the angel (a Blake reference), or at best a dance with another writer, another language. It demands a removal of ego, and Hacker figured that it was a skill like playing chess, or rollerblading, one she could watch and adore from the side lines. She is aware of how poetry has cadences, rhythms, rhymes, echoes and connotations, and it is hard to keep all of these.

But she noted that she had read Emily Dickinson with more insight, having discussed the problems of translation. Reading, after all, is often an act of translation.

She'd been an advisor on a translation of New York poets into France, and had attended a conference where she'd acted as interpreter. Having done a rough translation, she began to work on it more, and do more. Translation is the most involved of readings, demanding an earthy involvement in language.

Hacker notes that there is no anthology of French women poets, or Algerian poets, Franco-Jewish poets, Belgian-born French poets, and that womens' poetry had been neglected by the academy. There is a tension between the Francophone and the French, but it seems not to be acknowledged. Hacker was interested in the cosmopolitans and the borders crossers, preferring poetry in conversation with other traditions, finding luminosity in quotidian objects and constructing history from normal lives.

Particularly striking was the work of a French poets born in Israel, who engaged with the Yiddish tradition, who railed against the Israeli partition wall, and effectively wrote haiku about the Holocaust -

every Jew is his own Christ carrying the cross of who he is

the just do not only inhabit one hemisphere of speech

The one name I noted down was Hedi Kandour, who has written a novel called Waltenberg which shades into sf, is a Germanist and is a Tunisian-French poet. Again his poetry was very striking. I wanted a reading list.

Translation, argued Hacker, is like writing in a fixed form (like the sonnet) and is working within restraints, sometimes going for rhythm, sometimes for cadence, sometimes for connotation. In the process the ego has to be amputated, producing work which is plausible, coherent and memorable.

Oh, and the woman who I walk past on campus was Marilyn Hacker.
faustus: (Culture)
( Jul. 27th, 2009 12:43 am)
... I can connect ...

Let us pass over the reasoning for being there - it is a shelter I've noticed before, and wondered at the railway station style of its metalwork. If, as David Seabrook suggests, a tram ran past here from Cliftonville, then maybe it acted as a tram stop.

Here TSE sat and drafted The Waste Land.

He should see Margate now.

On Margate Sands

Out to sea, though, the Kentish Flats Offshore Wind Farm, the sea forts built during the Second World War, ferries and freight, and the cranes for the Turner Gallery. On the beach, what is claimed to be a jazz festival, but sounds like noise to me. And then, over my shoulder, the battered facade of Dreamland -

- and yes, it was there, the park at least, in 1920, as was the Scenic Railway.

I see hordes of people walk around in a ring.

Was the first draft The Dream Land?

I sit and read through the poem, slotting it together.

... Nothing with nothing
faustus: (Culture)
( Jul. 25th, 2009 12:36 am)
Carol Ann Duffy has commissioned war poetry for the Guardian
faustus: (Default)
( Jul. 3rd, 2009 12:22 am)
Marlowe Theatre

Struck - the scene is struck,
the set, the stage, the theatre too -
a million nights out, a thousand matinees,
plays, pantos, performances struck
from the pages of bolt and screw
and brick and pane, lost days
of double features, Pathe News,
the thrice daily programme of social glue
unstuck, experiences of boos and praise.
Marlowe Theatre
Now, a ship beached, whose
time has come for a last curtain call;
unrigged, stripped, the final run through,
no more rehearsals, late night dispersals to booz-
ers, flea-ridden digs. Both circle and stall
no more, have gone, demolished. Time struck.
Marlowe Theatre

To Whom It May Concern Remix

Come all ye -
wartbrain psychics
with astroid sidekicks
prostate agents
and plastic Cajuns

royal doggerellas
cluster bombsellers
alternative surgeons
torturesport virgins

heavy vivisectionists
columnists, Golumnists,
priests of the beast
who are secretly policed
by highranker bankers
playing pranks with tankers

ghost advisers
death advertisers
vampire preachers
sucked-dry teachers
beheaded dead bodies
of blank-hearted squaddies

billionaire beauticians
fishing for positions
from poison politicians
with obliteration missions –
I'm alone, I'm afraid
And I need your aid
can't you see – can't you see – can't you see?

I was run over by the truth one day
Ever since the accident I've walked this way
So stick my legs in plaster
Tell me lies about Vietnam

Heard the alarm clock screaming with pain
Couldn't find myself, so I went back to sleep again
So fill my ears with silver
Stick my legs in plaster
Tell me lies about Vietnam

Every time I shut my eyes, all I see is flames
I made a marble phone-book, and I carved all the names
So coat my eyes with butter
Fill my ears with silver
Stick my legs in plaster
Tell me lies about Vietnam

I smell something burning, hope it's just my brains
They're only dropping peppermints and daisy-chains
So stuff my nose with garlic
Coat my eyes with butter
Fill my ears with silver
Stick my legs in plaster
Tell me lies about Vietnam

Where were you at the time of the crime?
Down by the Cenotaph, drinking slime
So chain my tongue with whisky
Stuff my nose with garlic
Coat my eyes with butter
Fill my ears with silver
Stick my legs in plaster
Tell me lies about Vietnam

You put your bombers in, you put your conscience out
You take the human being, and you twist it all about
So scrub my skin with women
So chain my tongue with whisky
Stuff my nose with garlic
Coat my eyes with butter
Fill my ears with silver
Stick my legs in plaster
Tell me lies about –
BAE Systems

Tell me lies Mr Bush
Tell me lies Mr Blairbrowncameron

Tell me lies about Vietnam
I fell in love with McMillan's work when I heard The Blackburn Files, a comic radio series about a northern (probably Barnsleyan) PI which inlcuded a line about how Hitler hid in Withernsea until 1964. Since then I've run into him in various locations - different corners of Radio 4, various incarnations of the Mark Radcliffe shows, HIGNFY - and I even have a Selected Poems which is rather more serious than his usual performance poet style (do I recall correctly it was about bell-ringing?).

And I regret not taking that volume with me to the one third full Carbuncle, where he was eminently accessible and indeed I shook his hand and later got him to sign a CD. The excuse was The Ian McMillan Orchestra, McMillan with five talented multinstrumentalists - Luke Carver Goss (accordion/guitar/flugelhorn/vocals), Clare Salaman (nyckelharpa/hurdy-gurdy/violin), Nathan Thomson (double bass/kalimba), Oliver Wilson-Dickson (violin/percussion/vocals) and Dylan Fowler (guitar/mandocello/vocals). Goss arranges McMillan's words, which McMillan reads, declaims, jokes around and uncle dances* to.

The tone is predominantly humorous, but there's an affection for those who are no longer with us (his mother's friend in the nursing home, presumably his father, Eric Morecambe) and anger at the modern world (Arts Council cuts which threaten regional theatres). It's obviously accessible, and very appealing. The music is folk, Irish tinged, but there are jokes at the expense of the form ("Death by Sea Shanty") and the need for eight hundred choruses. The party piece is how - like Otis Crenshaw and Mitch Benn - he improvises a song with words from the audience, but he does it immediately (sausage, wheelbarrow, wind and penguin) rather than taking the interval or having already got someone's life story over the act. And it's presumably harder for six people to improvise rather than just three.

I've bought the CD - I just need to find the time to listen.

* You know, that embarrassing uncle at the party, who dances but really shouldn't, and nobody claims ownership of as a relative. I thought he was with you?
... although the question was first asked on it.

Apparently there is a filthy poem - we assume a limerick - involving Reculver. I can only think of the one rhyme for Reculver (diva, guava, java, kava, larva, lava, mitzvah, nova, ova, palaver, shiva, viva don't hack it for me) and I'd lay odds that one of the other lines would be front, but so far google has not located it, nor has ingenuity found an alternative.

Edit: I will sleep on the notion of a kind of sea lettuce for its filth possibilities.

Cut for poor efforts )

H'mmm... maybe not.
faustus: (culture)
( Oct. 9th, 2008 02:17 pm)
if you like my poems let them
walk in the evening,a little behind you

then people will say
"Along this road i saw a princess pass
on her way to meet her lover (it was
toward nightfall) with tall and ignorant servants."

E. E. Cummings
Carol Ann Duffy has responded to her removal from the GSCE curriculum says the Guardian with a poem this.

If you've not seen the story - one of her poems which has been used for donkeys' years is no longer going to be used because it encourages knife crime. Bang goes Psycho, obviously, but also The Scottish Play ("Is this a knife I see before me?"), Romeo and Juliet (hold up, it's poison, not stabbing yourself - is that Antony and Cleopatra?), Hamlet (regicide, incest and drowning - plus stabbing someone in the arras), King Lear (jumping off stools, dividing kingdoms), Titus Andronicus (eating people is wrong) and The Tempest (burying books - someone might misused the spade).

Gosh, for once poetry matters, but puhlease....
faustus: (dreamland)
( Mar. 12th, 2008 11:10 am)
So two broadsheets (well a quality tabloid and a Berliner) are giving away poetry pamphlets. The Indy have gone the classic route (Milton yesterday, Pope today, my guess is one of the Romantic blokes tomorrow), whereas I suspect the Grauniad has bought shares in Faber and Faber (Eliot yesterday, Auden today).

Slightly boggled to see my old tutor aka Sham Toejob pictured in the Grauniad yesterday; professor and head of department? And always there with the Larkin stuff - letters to mother.

I keep opening newspapers and turning on the radio and recognising the expert - last week Xav was talking to George Romero on the Toady programme (and let's face it, a horror director being treated respectfully on the Toady programme is odd enough).
W.H. Auden - The Secret Agent

Control of the passes was, he saw, the key
To this new district, but who would get it?
He, the trained spy, had walked into the trap
For a bogus guide, seduced by the old tricks.

At Greenhearth was a fine site for a dam
And easy power, had they pushed the rail
Some stations nearer. They ignored his wires:
The bridges were unbuilt and trouble coming.

The street music seemed gracious now to one
For weeks up in the desert. Woken by water
Running away in the dark, he often had
Reproached the night for a companion
Dreamed of already. They would shoot, of course,
Parting easily two that were never joined.


faustus: (Default)


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