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Friday, 10 October 2008

Poem by Sebastian Barker

Eyewear is very pleased to welcome Sebastian Barker (pictured) to these pages today.

Barker was elected Chairman of the Poetry Society 1988-1992, Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature 1997, and editor of The London Magazine 2002-2008. In that last capacity, he was a bravely outspoken critic of certain Arts Council funding policies.

Barker's poetry publications include The Erotics of God (Smokestack, 2005), The Matter of Europe (Menard, 2005), Damnatio Memoriae: Erased from Memory (Enitharmon, 2004), The Hand in the Well (Enitharmon, 1996), Guarding the Border: Selected Poems (Enitharmon, 1992), and The Dream of Intelligence (Littlewood Arc, 1992).

Barker, whose father was one of the major poets of the 30s-40s period, continues a tradition of visionary, richly-eloquent, highly-poetic utterance - unafraid to sound like, or be, a poet - and, as such, the religious, philosophical, as well as aesthetic, implications of his significant work meet, head on, the more debased and secular (even laddish) concerns of much contemporary British poetry of the mainstream. He also reads his work strikingly and unforgettably. I was glad to have been able to record one of his poems for the Oxfam CD, Life Lines. I think he is one of the best, and most serious, of the poets now working in these isles.


The Critical Faculty of the Poet

Improving what was previously better,
None too sure of what it wants to put,
Collapsing truth by pulling out a letter,
And lameing music by cutting off a foot.
Inserting meaning where none ought to be,
Feeling sure that spelling, syntax, grammar
Are more employer than employee,
Nailing the crucifix with logic's hammer.
Harping, chiding, squabbling, snarling, stabbing,
Mauling what it cannot love or praise,
Distempering the pure, while none too quietly grabbing
Whatever suits its foul and foolish ways.
The critical faculty at length cleans out its gun.
Without its fierce resistance no war of love is won.

poem by Sebastian Barker; portrait of the poet by John Minihan.
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