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Friday, 30 October 2009
Dorothy Molloy, the Irish poet, died in 2004, ten days before her Faber collection was published. It was a tragic debut. Her second collection was prepared posthumously, and also came out from Faber. Now, her partner has brought out her third and final collection, Long-distance Swimmer, with Irish press Salmon. As Andrew Carpenter writes in his Introduction, "Dorothy would have been delighted to know that Salmon was publishing her work." I've yet to read the book in depth, but it seems an image-rich, dark, and lively collection that I look forward to reading. New books from other Irish writers that have appeared recently, include C.L Dallat's, and the new one from Siobhan Campbell, Cross-Talk.
Wednesday, 28 October 2009
Good news. Canada's major poetry award, the GGs, has shortlisted two key 21st century poet-critics, Carmine Starnino and Sina Queyras, who represent widely divergent poetics. Both edited major Canadian anthologies recently - Open Field and The New Canon. As poets their work represents the major trends in new Canadian poetry. It'll be interesting to see who wins.
Monday, 26 October 2009
Friends, the new assistant editor of Eyewear is Ms. Kavita Joshi. She is a fine younger British poet and recent university graduate from Leicester, where she studied literature. From time to time she may update the site. Mainly, she will oversee it in a caretaker capacity. Hopefully, pending reviews can be added later in the year.
Thank you, friends and followers, for keeping me on your radar. I saw my doctor again today. I am unfit for work, require more investigations, and am currently switching to a new treatment regime. I am in great pain most of the time. What a beautiful October weekend it was: the end of the British summer, and the best weather of the year. I am deeply moved by love and friendship now - more even than art, it endures, and matters. I cannot imagine what I ever had to complain about - if I did. What I had, before this ill health came, was a great treasure. The treasure remains. A dear true love. One thinks of poets and illness - Keats the best known, and not just because of the new film, Bright Star, which I hear is superb. Dylan Thomas, too. Eliot's nerves. Plath. The list is long. I am not sure pain makes things better creatively, though Delmore Schwartz thought so. Be good to each other. Don't take poetry prizes too seriously - I suppose my two main messages. If I had a third, it would be: poetry can also be grandiloquent without need to apologise. Austerity, opacity, difficulty, strangeness, plainness, the ordinary, the demotic - it's all language. Poets try their best with it. Enjoy the light while it lasts.
Wednesday, 21 October 2009
The surprise move by the Catholic church to welcome dissenting Anglicans, even married priests, into the fold, is disconcerting. I'd take advantage of it as I am an Anglican moving towards Rome, however the main reasons most want to switch not fight are intolerant; namely, homophobia and other small-minded positions. This sort of thing means that when Stephen Fry recently debated against the Church he was able to use the subtlety of a Dan Brown to shoot fish in a barrell. A pity, because the good that Catholicism does in Britain and the world is greater than the evils its detractors claim.
Echo and the Bunnymen have an 11th album, if not an 11th hour conversion. But they have made a pop album that is almost annoyingly upbeat, and it sounds like Snow Patrol too often. While the fabulous wordplay surrounding sacharine, Shroud of Turin, and sack you're in is fun, nothing here reaches the splendour of Ocean Rain, or the erotic danger of Lips Like Sugar. A disappointment after Siberia, but worth listening to if a true fan.
Sad news. The great Montreal-born character actor, Joseph Wiseman, unforgettable as the first major Bond villain, Dr No, has died. He was also in The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, that important Canadian-American film set in Montreal.
Thursday, 8 October 2009
I was reading Helen Gardner the other day on the "art of TS Eliot" and it struck me that the phrase he borrowed from Julian of Norwich, for his Four Quartets, "and all shall be well..." has come to be, I think, widely seen as his. Allusion begets authorship. Today is National Poetry Day in Britain. I am still dealing with a condition that basically has three outcomes - one, it clears up in a few months; two, it becomes chronic, and I am on medication for life; or three, it becomes chronic until treated with surgery. It isn't, currently, life-threatening - though it can become pre-cancerous if not treated thoroughly and effectively. The problem is, the medication has side effects, and the condition itself is unpleasant, and sometimes alarmingly painful. I don't want to belly ache: there are many people with worse conditions. However, because I have erosive esophagitis, it means that there is near constant burning down the length of my food pipe; and, too much speaking means I sometimes lose my voice. I had never been ill before in my life - sure, a few colds, a flu here and there. Some anxiety. But never ill in the sense of getting a disease which you don't necessarily recover from. Hard to rally without a clear goal. Improvement has been slow, after 30 days on the pills. I have missed several readings I wanted to give, a dear friend's wedding, and work - all things I would love to be a part of. I need to stay in the world, but not too involved, because I do need rest. Being ill requires a constant dialogue with the self. One either slips into a rather brutal drill sergeant "just get on with it" message; or into a groove of worry and self-pity. Neither feels right. It isn't business as usual; nor is it (quite) the end of the world. But, watching Lord of the Rings: Return of the King last weekend on the telly, I did get a sense of the end of one way of life; the Elves are sailing away; the leaves are falling. Autumn, especially one as sunny as ours has been, can break the heart and fill one with many thoughts of the oncoming greater bleakness. I need to rally, to keep on, to hope this condition will clear up, and won't get worse. Knowing my throat and esophagus is being eroded by acid is alarming. Knowing the condition opens me to serious other diseases is also worrying. I find friendship and love the only consolations; that and shaving and dressing well each day. Music helps a little - John Adams more than Madonna - her new Best Of sounds a hollow brass, though Dress You Up continues to delight me; it reminds me of how I danced when young to her songs, holding the edge of my sleeves as she did. I had wanted to recommend Voice Recognition, edited by James Byrne and Clare Pollard. Readers from abroad will find it a great Intro to the new British poetry. Been reading more Terrence Tiller. Do buy his books at Abe or where you can find them. He is such a fine 40s writer. Be well.
Thursday, 1 October 2009
Thanks for all the get-well comments. My condition is ongoing but hopefully can be managed by the treatments on offer. At the moment I am mostly in some pain throughout the day. I don't intend to return too often to these pages for a month or so, but did want to briefly mention that, after thinking about it, I agree with the arrest of Polanski. Chinatown is a great film, and was once my favourite, - as is Fearless Vampire Killers, Bitter Moon, and Frantic - but what he did (which he admitted to) is a crime that warrants punishment. As with Pound, we can have the man, and the work, and need not tar the one with the other. Polanski's tormented, oddly unfortunate life deepened the filmic intensity of his best projects, but the films rarely open out onto any apology or remorse, for evil. They're works of genius; but a genius inflected darkly.