Wednesday, 10 January 2007

Costa Gravitas?

Eyewear has read a lot of poetry books, and yet had never heard of John Haynes.

Just like Byron woke up "one morning" to "find himself famous" in London's vicious literary circles, though, Haynes has emerged, blinking, into the light - to ask someone for a poetry reading. I will ask him to read. In the meantime, though, I need to first find and read his latest collection, which has somehow bested Seamus Heaney's superb Distict and Circle.

Acording to his publisher's web-site, "John Haynes spent 1970 to 1988 as a lecturer in English at Ahmadu Bello University in Nigeria where he founded the literary journal Saiwa. Now back in the UK, he has continued teaching, writing and publishing and is the author of a number of books: on teaching, style and language theory, as well as African poetry, stories for African children, and two other volumes of verse. He has also won prizes in the Arvon and National Poetry competitions."

The Costa judges must be forgiven for their sins of omission; it hardly seems likely Haynes is better than Heaney (though both six-lettered names share 5 letters, raising some suspicion the whole stunt is an anagrammatic hoax from word-genius David Wheatley) - does it? Other than Horse Latitudes (more on that later) there can hardly have been a finer collection of mainstream, traditional lyric poetry in the English world this year than Mr. Heaney's striking return to form. So what gives?

Guess we'll have to read Haynes and see if Letter to Patience (Seren) is all form (in this instance terza rima), signifying nothing, or something more. To order the book, go to the Seren link below.


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