Skip to main content

Reply To Jane Holland

Jane, thanks for your comment re genre fiction, pulp fiction, and my library post. I confess to being totally flabbergasted by your comment that I am a snob and elitist culturally. What planet are you on? Certainly, not planet Eyewear. Anyone who ever reads this blog will know it is wildly and widely open to popular culture, genre fiction, kitsch, and breaking down barriers between high and low culture.

Have you ever read Eyewear on James Bond, Tarantino, or Ross Macdonald, for instance? Or, have you ever read my own poetry collections, which are filled with positive homages to Hitchcock, Chandler, and a variety of pulp and film noir sources. Perhaps you fail to recall my anthology celebrating "B-Poetry". Or forget I worked in TV for a decade, writing for schlock like Teenage Ninja Turtles, and Japanese anime like Sailor Moon? Or perhaps you ignore my work for Penthouse? In short - geez, come off it, Jane! You can't protest about one post without reading it within the context of the blog as a whole. If Eyewear isn't open to pulp, what is? My point was, Patterson is rubbish pulp, and Fry is a poor salesman for contemporary poetry.

Comments

James Brookes said…
Todd, that was a measured, funny respose to a cheeky, amusing and provocative comment from Jane. For my two ha'pence worth, I love robust exchanges, but I loathe the flame wars that seem to dog poetry forums. I think it is because I despise writing that fails to take itself seriously and I dislike writers that take themselves too seriously - in short, I enjoy trash, pulp and genre fiction when it is self-knowingly and humbly trashy. I lrespect high modernism when it believes in its serious engagement with our aesthetic and emotional faculties. I doubt you, Jane or I have much time for snobbery, whether it is intellectualist or popularist. I like the fact that Jane feels she can say "I am not foolish enough to think I know what other people ought to be reading" and then announce "Poetry only appeals to the few. Thank goodness. Let's keep it that way." We can all have contradictory thoughts and still function. I dislike Fry's 'Ode' book, but I will always be glad of his affectionate send-ups of literary criticism in A Little Bit of Fry and Laurie (see www.youtube.com/watch?v=hHQ2756cyD8 ). Glory be to God for all things counter, original, spare, strange - Geoffrey Hill, Sailor Moon and points between.
Poetry Pleases! said…
Dear Todd

According to his Collected Letters, Philip Larkin's favourite author was Dick Francis who has just died. I think the important thing is to read whatever you want rather than what you feel you ought to. I remember wading through Tom Jones by Henry Fielding simply because a teacher had recommended it. I didn't enjoy it much and wasted weeks of my life ploughing through it.

Best wishes from Simon
Jeffrey Side said…
If Jane Holland didn't exist it would be necessary for us to invent her. She is the Alan Partridge of light verse.

I agree with you about Fry and Patterson. Although I like Fry, and think him a decent man, the media do tend to hold him as some sort of polymath, whose opinions should be regarded as almost sacrosanct.
Alistair Noon said…
Talking of eighties comedians with a take on poetry, there is of course this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sMQNH9G5nbI
Steven Waling said…
I like Jane Holland and think her poetry is very interesting. Not the most innovative, but so what?

I tend to think most literary fiction is dull and unreadable. I'd rather have Terry Pratchett. At least he makes me smile. When I'm not reading the latest Robert Sheppard, I'd rather read something like a good detective novel. I don't see what's wrong with that.
Jeffrey Side said…
Steven, I wouldn't call Sheppard’s poetry all that non-mainstream anymore--at least syntactically. It is quite transparent lexically also. I think he now sees lexically disruptive techniques as something old hat. He mentions this somewhere in his blog.
Mark Granier said…
'Alan Partridge of light verse' might almost be a compliment if it weren't for that bitchy little adjective.

I like SF and other genre (non-'literary') fiction, provided that it is written well enough; i.e. that the sentences don't tend to fall asleeep before you can finish them. I tried Dan Brown and half a page was enough, nay, too much. Ursula K. LeGuin and Patricia Highsmith can be very good indeed, as can Stephen King when he refrains from doing what he almost always does: binging on an interesting idea/plot/story till it busts its waistband; his short stories are occasionally excellent. Not sure what 'literary fiction' is exactly. Ian McEwan? Hilary Mantel? Tobias Wolff is one of my favourite American writers. Would these count, or are they too low or middlebrow? And why should anyone care?
Jeffrey Side said…
I didn’t intend it to be bitchy. Light verse has a respected tradition; and I like Lewis Carol and Pam Ayres, for instance.

My comparing Jane to Partridge was to point out her occasional tactlessness, which I find quite endearing and human.
Mark Granier said…
Perhaps you didn't Jeffrey, but I think one should always be wary of pigeonholing; would Jane categorise her own poetry as 'light verse'?
Jeffrey Side said…
I think she would, yes, as it is based on the song tradition.
Jeffrey Side said…
My last comment is in error, as I misread your question. I thought it said:

"Perhaps you didn't Jeffrey, but I think one should always be wary of pigeonholing; would Jane categorise YOUR own poetry as 'light verse'?"

I have just increased my browser text size to a larger setting, and will be getting my eyes tested when the nearest optician is next open!
Jane Holland said…
Somehow managed to miss all this Jane Hollandism. Sorry. Horribly busy sidestepping poetry and writing fiction instead. (The Alan Partridge of genre fiction, perhaps?)

I DON'T categorise my poetry as light verse, as it happens. Anyone who has ever read light verse would realise what a ludicrous comparison that is. And designed to flame me into some mouth-foaming rant, I daresay.

Luckily, I'm too busy to care. Though if a comparison with song is what categorises light verse, I'm in spectacularly good company. Cf Vergilius : arma virumque cano et cetera ...

Popular posts from this blog

Review of the new Simple Minds album - Walk Between Worlds

Taste is a matter of opinion - or so goes one opinion. Aesthetics, a branch of pistols at dawn, is unlikely to become unruffled and resolved any time soon, and meantime it is possible to argue, in this post-post-modern age, an age of voter rage, that political opinion trumps taste anyway. We like what we say is art. And what we say is art is what likes us.

Simple Minds - the Scottish band founded around 1977 with the pale faces and beautiful cheekbones, and perfect indie hair cuts - comes from a time before that - from a Glasgow of poverty and working-class socialism, and religiosity, in a pre-Internet time when the heights of modernity were signalled by Kraftwerk, large synthesisers, and dancing like Bowie at 3 am in a Berlin club.

To say that early Simple Minds was mannered is like accusing Joyce of being experimental. Doh. The band sought to merge the icy innovations of German music with British and American pioneers of glam and proto-punk, like Iggy Pop; their heroes were contrived,…

THE WINNER OF THE SIXTH FORTNIGHT PRIZE IS...



Wheeler Light for 'Life Jacket'.

The runner-up is: Daniel Duffy - 'President Returns To New York For Brief First Visit'

Wheeler Light currently lives in Boulder, Colorado.



Life Jacket

summer camp shirtsI couldn’t fit in then
are half my size nowI wanted to wear
smaller and smallerarticles of clothing
I shrunk to the sizethat disappeared

of an afterthoughtin a sinking ship body
too buoyant to sinktoo waterlogged for land
I becamea dot of sand

JOHN ASHBERY HAS DIED

With the death of the poetic genius John Ashbery, whose poems, translations, and criticism made him, to my mind, the most influential American poet since TS Eliot, 21st century poetry is moving into less certain territory.

Over the past few years, we have lost most of the truly great of our era: Edwin Morgan, Gunn, Hill, Heaney and Walcott, to name just five.  There are many more, of course. This is news too sad and deep to fathom this week.  I will write more perhaps later. 

I had a letter from Ashbery on my wall, and it inspired me daily.  He gave me advice for my PhD. He said kind things about a poetry book of mine.

He was a force for good serious play in poetry, and his appeal great. So many people I know and admire are at a loss this week because of his death. It is no consolation at present to think of the many thousands of living poets, just right now. But impressively, and even oddly, poetry itself seems to keep flowing.