Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Mother Courage of Rock by Luc Sante

Luc Sante's fine piece on Patti Smith in the New York Review of Books is well worth reading.
By then the poets I liked best and tried to emulate — Frank O’Hara, John Ashbery, Ted Berrigan, Ron Padgett — spoke to the eye and the refined internal ear. Apart from Allen Ginsberg and Helen Adam it was hard to think of contemporary poets who honored poetry’s ancient connection to song.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Joyce's new look

My book on James Joyce has a new livery -- very pleasing to see it in this more colourful design. Order it now if you feel so inclined.

Meanwhile, on the world stage:

It’s a heady thought — if a bit preposterous — that a few lines of verse might undermine a government. But poetry, it is now clear, can be tantamount to treason in China, just as it was in Czechoslovakia (Václav Havel), the Soviet Union (Joseph Brodsky and many others) and other authoritarian regimes of yesteryear.

Read more about Chinese poets in trouble in the International Herald Tribune.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Hedge fund alchemy

Intriguing piece by Boyd Tonkin in the Independent today, suggesting that the poets who withdrew from the T. S. Eliot Prize might have misjudged the Aurum Funds group.

'[Aurum] also runs something called the Synchronicity Foundation, linked to a dedicated investment fund that finances its goals. And, ironically enough, Synchronicity turns out to be driven by just those high-minded, holistic and slightly mystical ecological ideals that you find so eloquently voiced in poems by Alice Oswald or John Kinsella.'

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

John Burnside

As much as it has ever done, poetry renews and deepens the gift that most surely makes us human: the imagination. And that is as essential to public as it is to private life, because the more imaginative we are, the more compassionate we become – and that, surely, is the highest virtue of all.
A fine piece by John Burnside in the Telegraph, musing on his win and poetry in general. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

No alarms and no surprises

No great surprise at the T. S. Eliot Prize, as John Burnside won, although it is something of a coup for the New Statesman.

Meanwhile, over the pond, the University of Pennsylvania has launched an online radio station that plays nothing but poetry. Try it here. Marvellous. Or, as the Americans like to say, marvelous.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Constellations preview

The Guardian seem to have omitted to mention the appearance of my second collection in their round-up of publishing highlights of 2012. Still, you can get a sneak preview of the cover of Constellations in the new Carcanet catalogue, which is full of many other good things, too, as you'd expect.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Through a Glass Darkly

After Harvard, you spent two years at the University of Cambridge. What are the differences between American and British poets, or the relationship between them?

I remember feeling how oddly unrelated British and American poets were in the '70s. At the "high" end, there's more interchange — we read Seamus Heaney; some people here read Geoffrey Hill. You read Robert Lowell, or even John Ashbery in certain quarters. But in the middle it sometimes feels that there’s almost no connection. I remember going to hear poets like Lee Harwood read, sort of British “New York School” poets, in London when I was a student. They were very much on the outer edge of experimentalism in Britain. As students, of course, we would read David Jones and people who had historical relevance, and Philip Larkin was still alive then, who was very great. I remember being totally overwhelmed reading "The Whitsun Weddings" on a train in England. But a lot of the "everyday" poets don’t really speak to each other. It’s almost as if they are reading each other through a glass darkly. I think that’s particularly true of the Britons reading American poets.

Jonathan Galassi, President of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, and one-time poetry editor of the Paris Review, interviewed in The Economist.