Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Steak and Poetry

As one of the comments observes, "This is a lovely article about nothing, really," but Emily Witt's "Steak and Poetry from the Rooftops" in The Paris Review captures well the distractedness of a poetry reading, as the poets are assailed on all sides by the smells and sounds of the city.
I think Lisa Jarnot comes off best here. And her daughter.

Monday, June 27, 2011


(link to the Telegraph)
and for reference
'Poetrygate' (on poet Jane Holland's site Raw Light)

Update: A little more clarification in the Guardian today, but not much.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Churchill and Nietzsche

Cabinet War Rooms, London

My Guardian review of Churchill's Bunker by Richard Holmes can be read here. And there really is a vast tunnel network under Whitehall called . . . Pindar.

In other odd news, I nearly fell off my chair whilst reading Private Eye (Eye 1291) yesterday evening. It pointed out that Hugh Tomlinson QC, "the barrister to go to if you want a gagging order" whose clients include Sir Fred Goodwin and Ryan Giggs among others  is the same Hugh Tomlinson who translated Gilles Deleuze's Nietzsche and Philosophy and Dialogues and the book on Kant  or, as the Eye puts it, "Tomlinson used to earn a crust translating impenetrable works of philosophy by the French 'Niezscheo[sic]-structuralist' Gilles Deleuze." How extraordinary. Can this really be true?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Happy Bloomsday, One and All!

'. . . and there was no-one to see only him and her when she revealed all her graceful beautifully shaped legs like that, supply soft and delicately rounded, and she seemed to hear the panting of his heart . . .'
(Ulysses, 'Nausicaa')

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Emporium encore

I’m not quite sure how to take Sean Colletti’s review of Emporium.

I should be grateful for the attention, I think.

After all, he writes:

‘Any writer of poetry will tell you how difficult it is to write even just a mildly successful sestina, and Pindar shows us how it's done while using ambitious end-words in “affection” and “remainder” without making us want to gouge our own eyes out at regular intervals. Form enhancing content is a common occurrence in Emporium, and it makes the Eliot comparison appropriate.’

But (and there’s always a but, isn’t there?) he really hates my anti-monarchy poem ‘The King’s Evil’: ‘a voice planted embarrassingly on a massive pedestal’. Oh dear. He doesn’t mention the echoes of Pound at all in this poem. Ah well. You can’t please everyone all of the time.

(Also, I don’t think he realises that ‘Society of Blood’ does not represent my views – the voice is not mine. NB in a previous incarnation it was entitled ‘Faschismus’.)

Anyway, he says of Emporium as a whole:

‘It emanates creativity, at one point joining lines of over one hundred poets, from Langland to Chernoff, in a poetic “Chain Letter”, as it's titled. This kind of experimentation stands as its main charm and makes it worth reading and re-reading. And as this is Pindar's first collection, I'm already excited to see what he comes up with in his follow-up. Hopefully, though, he'll have made his political opinions more seamlessly integrated into the poetry, which he has such a natural connection with, whether it's echoing the storytelling brilliance of a peak-performance Tennyson in “Big Bumperton on the Sabbath” or using rhyme and form in the most contemporary of fashions.’

Monday, June 13, 2011

Desert Island Discs

Belgianwaffle is playing Desert Island Discs, so I thought I’d list my choices here, just for fun:

- Miles Davis, ‘Mademoiselle Mabry’ (Filles de Kilimanjaro)

- Franz Schubert ‘Nacht und Traüme’

- The Congos ‘Don’t Blame on I’

- Leos Janacek ‘The Barn Owl Has Not Flown Away’ (On an Overgrown Path)

- Bob Dylan ‘Visions of Johanna’

- Robert Johnson ‘Come on in My Kitchen’

- Anton Karas ‘The Harry Lime Theme’

- Muddy Waters ‘Honey Bee’ or T-Bone Walker ‘I’m in a Awful Mood’
and if forced to choose: Janacek – I’d like it played at my funeral!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Emporium encore

Have I mentioned my debut poetry collection, Emporium?

It's currently part of Carcanet's June promotion, celebrating first collections, which means you can get a 25% discount. Just thought I'd mention it.

Apropos of nothing, Lydia Davis has written a pleasing review of John Ashbery's new translation of Rimbaud's Illuminations (also available from Carcanet) in the New York Times:

When Rimbaud’s mother asked of “A Season in Hell,” “What does it mean?” — a question still asked of Rimbaud’s poetry, and of Ashbery’s, too — Rimbaud would say only, “It means what it says, literally and in every sense.”

Friday, June 10, 2011

Andrei Platonov (1899–1951)

You can read my review of David Bellos’s Romain Gary: A Tall Story (Harvill Secker) in the Times Literary Supplement this week, where you can also read the first English translation of Andrei Platonov’s ‘On the First Socialist Tragedy’, described as ‘one of the earliest and greatest of classic ecological texts’.

‘The relationship between technology and nature is tragic’

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Wave Composition

Wave Composition -- a new online literary journal edited by Ed Sugden and Stephen Ross -- has just gone live. Do take a look. It's full of interesting things, but also four poems from my forthcoming collection Constellations: 'tests in a landscape of thinking'.