McDevitt on b/w

Note: Niall McDevitt was asked to supply a note regarding his extraordinary collection, so readers of Eyewear could more fully engage with his wide and deep sense of tradition.  This is what he wrote.  McDevitt, it seems to me, combines elements of the eccentric styles and learning of Pound, with the vitriol of Wyndham Lewis.  TS


What I'm trying to do with b/w is stand on the shoulders of such giants as Jeremy Reed, John 'Crow' Constable, Aidan Andrew Dun, Iain Sinclair et al in exploring poetry as urban shamanism.

The work is bohemian and is aware of the incarnations and reincarnations of bohemia: the Dionysians, Orphists/Pythagoreans, the Sufis/Haiku masters/Troubadours, the Amaurians/Free Spirits/Ranters etc. etc. etc.

I treat poetry as an art, not as a competitive sport or an academic discipline.

It is avant-garde/mainstream/performance poetry in one, as was Allen Ginsberg/Dylan Thomas/Sylvia Plath.

The best way of getting away from from the 'gentility problem' is to mix spirituality and scurrility a la Dante/Shakespeare/Goethe. The solid bourgeois is wary of either, terrified of both. Misunderstanding mummifies the work for the later Egyptologists.

The reintroduction of real/wild/raw/mad emotion - the ones we feel! - is the returning of lyric poetry to the spirit of the dark lady sonnets and the spirit of the modern popular song. 'I try to write the most embarrassing thing I can think of...' (John Wieners).

Multi-stylism is preferred to mono-stylism. Shapeshifting is the modus operandi. It's not about finding your voice, but finding your voices.

Until the poet reads the holy books, the poet is in kindergarten.

Until we recognise David Gascoyne as the best English poet of the 20th Century, we haven't noticed the tectonic shift.

I'm also really trying to address the complete change in reality that has occurred in the first decade of the third millennium. It amazes me that so many poets carry on Larkining/Muldooning/Patersoning about as if nothing had happened.