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Blog entries on '26 April 2006'

Wednesday 26 April 2006


Matchbox is a new Manchester-based poetry magazine. Each issue is devoted to one poet and contains some of their poems, and a free gift, in a matchbox. The first issue is by Togara Muzanenhamo whose new collection, The Spirit Brides, will be coming out this summer from Carcanet. The matchboxes are available now, in Manchester, in Blackwell's, the Cornerhouse, Herbivores Cafe, The Basement and via subscription through the Matchbox website. Future issues are to include Bill Griffiths, Ray DiPalma, Lisa Jarnot and Peter Inman.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
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Wednesday 26 April 2006

On "No Swan So Fine"

My Poem of the Week this week is the often anthologized No Swan So Fine, first published in 1932, by Marianne Moore (1887-1972). The poem suggests that a china swan, symbolising art, has outlasted and outlived Louis XV of France ("The king is dead.") Now, I was going to attempt a quick reading of the poem (as I did last week with John Burnside's Septuagesima), but I don't think I'll get a chance. Anyway, this below, by Pamela White Hadas, does a very tidy job:

No Swan So Fine asserts that there is no live swan, "no swan, / with swart blind look askance / and gondoliering legs, so fine" as the china one among its finely sculptured and polished flowers in the Louis XV candelabrum. The last half-line of the poem reads, simply and abruptly, "The king is dead." A way of life that went along with the king's life is also dead. The swan is alive only insofar as art is, but dead in its extravagant finality of form. Insofar as kings represent unprogressive ceremony and permanent superfluity, the swan and the king share a fate. The poem is a compression of an important ambivalence toward animals petrified as art. This swan appeals to Marianne Moore with its delicacy, elegance, and perfection; it appeals more than a live swan with "gondoliering legs." Yet, attractive as it is to her, she must admit that it is dead; it represents, more than a way of life, a royal fatality. The attraction is vital and fatal.

Posted by Mark Thwaite

Wednesday 26 April 2006


Twenty years after the Chernobyl disaster, Belarussian writer Svetlana Alexievich, author of Voices from Chernobyl, talks to Sonja Zekri (over at Sign and Sight) about the new face of evil and the lessons to be learned from the reactor catastrophe:

Svetlana Alexievich is obsessed by Chernobyl. For years she has travelled to the "zone", the radioactive area, talking with firemen and soldiers, with "liquidators" who cleared out the radioactive rubble from the ruins of the power plant, with survivors and people who have returned to their homes. Her findings are collected in a book, Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster. It is an echolocation of the catastrophe. Svetlana Alexievich, who was born in Ukraine and grew up in Belarus, lives in Sweden. We have yet to understand Chernobyl, she says. It is a foreign text.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
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Wednesday 26 April 2006

I did not know about this! The new poetry magazines archive,, is:

... a free access site to the full-text digital library of 20th and 21st century English poetry magazines from the Poetry Library collection. This site was launched on 22nd August 2003.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
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As you sow, so shall you reap. The bags packed,
Umbers and gold swollen between the purse-strings,
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Under striped canvas the patrons gather,
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The Dord, the Diglot, and an Avocado or two

Pre-order Anu Garg's new book: The Dord, the Diglot, and an Avocado or Two: The Hidden Lives and Strange Origins of Common and Not-So-Common Words (ISBN 9780452288614), published by Penguin more …

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October's Books of the Month

The New Spirit of Capitalism The New Spirit of Capitalism
Luc Boltanski; Eve Chiapello
Horizons Touched: The Music of ECM Horizons Touched: The Music of ECM
Steve Lake, Paul Griffiths

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