Blog Roll

Anecdotal Evidence
The Beiderbecke Affair
Biology of the Worst Kind
The Book Depository Editor's Corner
Book World
BOOKSURFER
Buzzwords Blog: 3AM Magazine
Castrovalva
Dialogic
Edward Champion's Return of the Reluctant
The Elegant Variation
Fernham
KR Blog
languagehat.com
LibrarianInBlack
the Literary Saloon
Long Sunday
MadInkBeard - Updates
The Midnight Bell
Mountain*7
Nomadics
The Olive Reader
pas au-delà
The Reading Experience
scarecrow
signandsight.com
splinters: books, authors, literature, travel, politics
Spurious
Tales from the Reading Room
This Space
University of Nebraska Press
Waggish
Weblog - A Don's Life - Times Online
Weblog - Peter Stothard - Times Online
Powered by Bloglines

ReadySteadyBlog

One of the Guardian Unlimited Books' top 10 literary blogs: "A home-grown treasure ... smart, serious analysis"

Blog entries for 'May 2006'

Wednesday 31 May 2006

Interval Drinks

RSB regular Natasha Tripney has an excellent blog over at Interval Drinks. Fine stuff - take a peak.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags:

Tuesday 30 May 2006

Sorrentino

With the help of the good folk at Coffee House Press and the Center for Book Culture, I've started to build a Gilbert Sorrentino minisite. There is some unique content including: Robert Creeley's Afterword to GS's Splendide-Hôtel; The Act of Creation and Its Artifact (from the Review of Contemporary Fiction, 1981); Something Said: Hubert Selby Jnr on GS (from the Review of Contemporary Fiction, 1981) and Two extracts from Imaginative Qualities of Actual Things. These articles all need a bit of tidying, which I'll sort once I've got through my recently acquired backlog of emails!

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags: ,

Sunday 28 May 2006

£50,000 gets you on!

"WH Smith ... is asking £50,000 per title per week for places on its “adult gold” list of recommended reads in the run-up to Christmas. A less demanding £15,000 will ensure that any old book will be “read of the week” during the year." (via the Sunday Times)


For a cool one million quid you can have a RSB editorial devoted entirely to your latest title - just email me and I'll get it sorted. We may be expensive, but we're classy!

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags:

Saturday 27 May 2006

Jane Eyre re-write?

It would seem that Charlotte Bronte offered to rewrite parts of Jane Eyre after a legal threat from the headmaster of the school on which she based the Lowood school in her novel. And what is exciting everyone is that the letters raise the prospect that somewhere, hidden away in an attic or under a bed, could lie an amended manuscript which Bronte toned down to avoid a libel lawsuit. Seems unlikely, but y'never know. (More via This is Bradford.)

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags:

Saturday 27 May 2006

What is a Freegan?

Nothing whatsoever to do with books. From freegan.info:


Freegans are people who employ alternative strategies for living based on limited participation in the conventional economy and minimal consumption of resources. Freegans embrace community, generosity, social concern, freedom, cooperation, and sharing in opposition to a society based on materialism, moral apathy, competition, conformity, and greed.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags:

Friday 26 May 2006

Manea

David Herman reviews The Hooligan's Return by Norman Manea (via 3 Quarks).


According to the wikipedia: "Norman Manea (born 19 July 1936) is a Romanian writer and intellectual, born in Burdujeni, Suceava County, Bukovina. Because he was Jewish in the time of Fascist-controlled Romania, Manea was deported in 1941 (at the age of 5) together with the rest of his family to a concentration camp in Transnistria, but survived, along with his whole family ... Manea is one of the most internationally famous contemporary Romanian writers, considered more popular abroad than in his native country."

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags:

Friday 26 May 2006

Friday Science: Global warming

Is it, as James Lovelock claims, already too late to save humanity and the planet we rely on? We don't know, but there doesn't seem to be too solid a ground for confidence. Unfortunately, I missed David Attenborough's recent TV programme on the subject, but you can read his views here. Attenborough has remained as sceptical as possible for as long as he could, but now, he says, it is time to get "engaged".


It's probably not the kind of engagement Attenborough had in mind, but Stratfor.com's free weekly email intelligence reports said this week that Earth First! is promising to launch a radical campaign against climate change, taking direct action including the blocking of refineries and generally aiming to "make a lot of noise". Stratfor.com's analysts are sceptical that this will make much difference, but the seriousness of the problem certainly seems to demand, at the very least, noise.


Not least because New Scientist reports this week that climate change can even affect the "frequencies of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and catastrophic sea-floor landslides". Unfortunately, this article isn't available on the website ...


Perhaps what we really need to wake people up to the dangers of climate change, says Marguerite Holloway in Scientific American, is a new Silent Spring, the 1962 book by Rachel Carson widely credited with launching the environmentalist movement. If Holloway is right, we could have found it in Field Notes from a Catastrophe by Elizabeth Kolbert. It could, she argues, be "this era's galvanising text."

Posted by Stuart Watkins
Tags:

Thursday 25 May 2006

The Flight of the Blackbird

Please take the time to read Andrew Merrifield's superb essay The Flight of the Blackbird: Aboard John Berger's Motorbike.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags:

Wednesday 24 May 2006

Blog page width

A quick RSB question for y'all: we've had a few issues with the size of the left column on the blog page. In some versions of firefox it seems to get very wide indeed squashing the middle column of my blog entries to a very narrow pipe of text. We think we've sorted the problem, but need a wee bit of confirmation: do you like the layout of the blog? are the blog columns the right width? do you want a wider middle blog column? Do let me know via the comments on the blog page. Thanks!

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags:

Tuesday 23 May 2006

This Excellent Space

Some great posts of late over at This Space (particularly liked the post on Jean-Luc Godard's plangent masterpiece Eloge de l'Amour). In Upon this blasted heath, Steve refers to the Euston Road Manifesto as "shameful". I used the same word myself to a friend recently ... and added imbecilic and apologist.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags:

Tuesday 23 May 2006

New offer to RSB readers from Poetry magazine

As you may know, I've been working with a number of literary journals and magazines to bring to RSB readers some unique subscription offers. We have already have reader offers with PN Review, The Reader and the TLS and now, today, I've added a new offer from the excellent US-based Poetry magazine.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags:

Tuesday 23 May 2006

A web guide to Geoffrey Hill

This is quite useful (looks horrid though - look and feel, people!): a selective bibliography of open access internet articles on Geoffrey Hill.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags:

Tuesday 23 May 2006

Sorrentino on the Beats

Gilbert Sorrentino, interviewed by Alexander Laurence back in 1994, on the Beat writers:


The beats can only be understood as a single manifestation, in the fifties, of the general dissatisfaction, among young, unknown artists, with the given norms of art then in ascendance. They have been distorted out of all reality by the popular media, probably because they make "good copy," but they were no less distorted at the time they emerged. Some of them did good work, some not, but that is the case with all "movements." That they were especially iconoclastic is an idea that will not wash, when one considers the remarkable innovations, the formal attacks on the norms of literature present at the time, by such writers as Olson, Creeley, O'Hara, Spicer, and so on. Strangely enough, some of the most compelling beat writers are more or less forgotten now -- Ray Bremser for one, and then, of course, there is Irving Rosenthal, whose single book, long out of print and almost impossible to find, Sheeper, is perhaps the most elegant single work to emerge from that era. To talk about the beats without acknowledging these writers is to assume that the propaganda about that era is the truth about that era. This is all further complicated by the historical blurring that occurs when non-beat writers are lumped in with beat writers, when we are told that such writers as Amiri Baraka, William Burroughs, Michael McClure, even Gary Snyder, are beat writers. That's like saying that Raymond Roussel was a surrealist. Again, to understand the beats, you have understand the general cultural ferment that was going on in the arts in the fifties, the restlessness, the boredom, the unintentional comedy of an era that proffered Randall Jarrell as a very important poet and that valorized Robert Frost to the detriment of William Carlos Williams.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags:

Tuesday 23 May 2006

Bishop books

Frustratingly, I can't get hold of a review copy of Alice Quinn's Edgar Allan Poe & The Juke-Box (uncollected poems, drafts and fragments by the American poet Elizabeth Bishop) published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux for love nor money!


You'll recall, that there has been much fuss about the book recently (mostly due to Helen Vendler's comments which our very own Michael Schmidt rejected in his editorial for PN Review no.169) so I am very keen to read and review it.


Never mind: the good folk at Bloodaxe have sent on their Elizabeth Bishop: Poet of the Periphery, which you'll note is one of my Books of the Week (along with Douglas Oliver's Arrondissements), which looks like it will quench my Bishop thirst just for now.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags:

Monday 22 May 2006

The Ethical Animal

Short notice, I know, but there is a special meeting of the Human Sciences Seminar today, at 5pm, in Room 335 of the Geoffrey Manton building of Manchester Metropolitan University. The speaker is Lisa Guenther from the University of Auckland, author of the forthcoming The Gift of the Other: Levinas and the Politics of Reproduction (SUNY Press). Her paper is entitled The Ethical Animal: Levinas and the Limits of Humanism.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags: ,

Monday 22 May 2006

Signals 3

Issue three of Signals, the contemporary poetry magazine, is out now featuring new work by Sarah Law, Peter Riley, Peter Robinson, George Szirtes and including an interview with Andrew Duncan. Also features a review of Geoffrey Hill's A Treatise of Civil Power.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags:

Sunday 21 May 2006

Sitemap

Thanks to the wonderful Lee, RSB now has a sitemap. The page lists every single content page on the site: there are currently around 800 links on there. Ooh, I have been busy!

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags:

Saturday 20 May 2006

Gilbert Sorrentino RIP

More sad news: Gilbert Sorrentino has died, aged 77.


There are few details: he had been diagnosed with cancer late last summer and he died on Thursday, May 18th, at a hospital in New York. More information can be gathered from the Center for Book Culture press release and there is also Dalkey's biography.


He was the most important novelist of his generation, inventing and reinventing styles and forms with each new book. A comic genius who was also able to write what is perhaps the bleakest novel in American fiction, The Sky Changes (1966) — a novel about divorce in America, and his first—Sorrentino set himself challenges with each new book, generally indifferent to how critics would react.

The range of his work and his absolute dedication to inventing and exploring character are unequalled by any of his contemporaries. Although oftentimes facilely grouped with such writers as Donald Barthelme, Thomas Pynchon, Robert Coover, John Barth, and John Hawkes, Sorrentino was, unlike these writers, never embraced by academics and was usually overlooked by the critics. His singular aesthetic and his lifelong tendency to criticize the very authors who could have helped his career placed him outside both the mainstream and the fashionably avant-garde.

Undoubtedly one of the finest voices of his generation, Sorrentino was sadly underrated. However, his winning the 2005 Lannan Lifetime Achievement Award did bring his name to the attention of new readers (the bloggers have helped too: good stuff here from MadInkBeard and remembrances from Dan and Richard) and his star did seem to be waxing again. The New York Times had said he was “like a reckless heir to Borges, Barthelme and Groucho Marx, [who] co-opts the language of critical discourse to subvert his audience’s preconceptions and, in so doing, redraws the boundaries of ‘acceptable’ art”.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags:

Friday 19 May 2006

Geoffrey Hartman

I know Geoffrey Hartman's name because he co-edited The Power of Contestation: Perspectives on Maurice Blanchot, but that is all I know about him. Now, Edinburgh University Press have kindly sent me The Geoffrey Hartman Reader principally because it won the 2006 Truman Capote Award for Literary Criticism. ("The $30,000 Capote Award is the largest annual cash prize for literary criticism in the English language, and is administered for the Truman Capote Estate by the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop.") Hartman's book was (I read):


... selected for the Capote Award by an international panel of prominent critics and writers -- Terry Castle, Garrett Stewart, Michael Wood, John Kerrigan, Elaine Scarry and James Wood -- each of whom nominated two books. Books of general literary criticism in English, published during the last four years, are eligible for nomination. After reading all the nominated books, each critic ranked the nominees.

Hartman is the author of more than 20 books and hundreds of essays and is one of America's most renowned literary scholars. He also founded the Fortnoff Video Archives of Holocaust Testimonies and has written extensively on literary and moral questions related to the Holocaust, and he has played a critical role in opening Judaic studies to a wider audience of scholars and students.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags:

Friday 19 May 2006

American War Poetry

Columbia have just sent on the very handsome looking American War Poetry: An Anthology edited by Elizabeth Bishop's biographer Lorrie Goldensohn:


American War Poetry spans the history of the nation. Beginning with the Colonial Wars of the eighteenth-century and ending with the Gulf Wars, this original and significant anthology presents four centuries of American men and women-soldiers, nurses, reporters, and embattled civilians-writing about war. 

American War Poetry opens with a ballad by a freed African American slave, commenting on a skirmish with Indians in a Massachusetts meadow. Poems on the American Revolution follow, as well as poems on “minor” conflicts like the Mexican War and the Spanish-American Wars. This compact anthology has generous selections on the Civil War, World Wars I and II, the Korean War, and the Vietnamese-American War, but it also includes an unusually large offering on American participation in the Spanish Civil War. Another section covers four hundred years of conflict with Native Americans, ending with poems by contemporary Indians who respond passionately and directly to their difficult history. The collection also reaches into current reaction to American involvement in Latin America, Bosnia, and the Gulf Wars.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags:

Thursday 18 May 2006

Adverts

We've just started with some adverts here on RSB. I'm not that happy about it. I wanted to keep adverts off the site, but the tiny amount of revenue they raise should help me continue to improve RSB. If the revenue that comes in after, say, three or four months, is still risible then I'll put a stop to them altogether. And if the feedback we get is predominantly negative (or positive) that will help me decide which way to jump too.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags:

Wednesday 17 May 2006

Beat Scene

I subscribed to Kevin Ring's Beat Scene magazine for years, despite not really being a fan of beat writing! Anyway, nice to see Dogmatika interviewing Kevin.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags:

Tuesday 16 May 2006

Douglas Oliver Blog Symposium

I mentioned Douglas Oliver's Whisper "Louise" about a month or so back here on the blog and now Edmund Hardy is proposing a "week-long series of posts on the work of Douglas Oliver by divers contributors" to be hosted over at intercapillaryspace from Monday 24th July to Sunday 30th July. Hopefully, I'll be contributing. Contact Edmund if you're interested in writing a post or want further information.


Douglas Oliver information: see John Hall's review of Whisper 'Louise' at Jacket. Books in print: Whisper 'Louise' (Reality Street); Arrondissements (Salt); A Salvo for Africa (Bloodaxe); Penniless Politics (Bloodaxe) and Selected Poems (Talisman House).

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags: ,

Tuesday 16 May 2006

Stanley Kunitz RIP

The American poet Stanley Kunitz (1905-2006) has died, this Sunday just gone. Lots of references and links over at wood s lot.


For a writer whose working life spans thirteen Presidents and perhaps as many literary zeitgeists, Kunitz's steadfastness is all the more extraordinary. No poet of stature has proved less quixotic or less profligate, and it's hard to think of many who have paced themselves so well. Few have been as resistant to the long poem and the epic conception, those bogeys that have devoured so many American poets, and perhaps only the famously fastidious Bishop showed any greater immunity to fever dreams of productivity. It would be a mistake, however, to equate this reticence with diffidence. What Kunitz's work lacks in glamour and commotion it compensates for in serious and decisive purpose. That no shelf will ever groan under Kunitz's collected poetry is a measure of his daunting ambition as well as of his scrupulous restraint.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags:

Monday 15 May 2006

Science round-up

RSB recently interviewed the radical anthropologist Chris Knight. There is another interview with Chris that goes into much more detail, outlining some of the evidence his theory is based on. Most fascinatingly, what he has to say is backed up by some of the latest findings in artificial intelligence.


It's worth spending a week checking out the truly wonderful Becoming Human website, which has a series of documentaries explaining what we know about the human story, and how we came to know it.

Posted by Stuart Watkins
Tags: ,

Monday 15 May 2006

Finally!

We have finally fully moved into our new home. All is madness: books everywhere; paperwork nowhere to be found; broadband access flakey. Hopefully, normal service will be resumed in the next couple of days, but forgive me if things don't move quite as quickly as normal here on RSB and if emails remained unanswered for a few days.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags:

Thursday 11 May 2006

Roubaud books

With Jacques Roubaud's The Shape of a City Changes Faster, Alas, Than the Human Heart (Dalkey Archive Press), a selection of 150 of his poems, and Poetry, Etcetera: Cleaning House (Green Integer) both out this summer (and Jacques Roubaud and the Invention of Memory by Jean-Jacques F. Poucel (University of North Carolina Press) due out in December) my thoughts have been turning to this French poet and mathematician, member of Oulipo (Ouvroir de littérature potentielle) and president of the Association Georges Perec.


Steve's review of The Great Fire of London is a fine place to start reading about Roubaud and I've also just stumbled across Marjorie Perloff's long essay, over at the excellent Jacket magazine, “But isn’t the same at least the same?”: Translatability in Wittgenstein, Duchamp, and Jacques Roubaud. You can also read Roubaud's Poetry Two Thousand and Two: A Defence? at Poetry International Web.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags:

Thursday 11 May 2006

Dante 2000

Dante 2000 is 'an information system on the Complete Works of Dante full of original features. The system is an indispensable work tool for students and teachers. Scholars and academics can use the System as an indispensable work tool, thanks also to the possibility of finding Dante's sources and links to the works of "Coeval Authors". Moreover, in the chapter dedicated to Statistics, scholars will find some surprising results of research, conducted on totally new concepts, that looks at whether "Il Fiore" should be attributed to Dante or not.' (via GOB)

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags:

Thursday 11 May 2006

Mary Beard's blog

As you will all probably know, the editor of the TLS, Sir Peter Stothard, has a blog. He is now joined in the blogosphere by the TLS Classics Editor Mary Beard.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags:

Wednesday 10 May 2006

Stéphane Mallarmé

Just out from OUP is Stéphane Mallarmé: Collected Poems and other verse (new translations by EH and AM Blackmore; parallel French text). Mallarmé (1842-1898) is known to be one of the most radical and innovative and nineteenth-century; his work still strikes as magnificently modern. He is also known to be difficult. Leader of the Symbolist movement in poetry with Paul Verlaine, and at the centre of a group of Paris-based writers like Proust, Gide and Paul Valéry, Mallarmé infuriated his peers, and his friends like Edgar Degas, with his insistence on his theories of "pure poetry". More to follow on Mallarmé when I've read this and read up!

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags: ,

Wednesday 10 May 2006

The Reader on the radio

I meant to mention this t'other day: our friends at The Reader were featured on Radio 4's Home Truths. The programme highlighted Get Into Reading, an outreach project run by The Reader which aims to change people's lives with books.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags:

Wednesday 10 May 2006

TLS offer

As many of you will have seen, I've been trying to arrange some great subscription offers for RSB readers. The offers that we have with PN Review and The Reader are just the first of many: watch out for offers coming soon in conjunction with Agenda, Granta and Poetry magazine. Excitingly, the Times Literary Supplement have come on board and are offering RSB readers the chance to save up to 58% on a subscription. This isn't strictly an exclusive offer, but it is, as I understand, the best offer they do (the standard saving on a subscription is up to 43% rather than up to 58%). So, if you want to subscribe to the TLS at a fantastic rate you know what to do. (If you are an non-UK-based reader and wish to subscribe to the TLS at a reduced rate email me - I still need to get this aspect sorted.)

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags:

Wednesday 10 May 2006

Marx and Flaubert

Who knew? (via adswithoutproducts)


The English edition of Madame Bovary hosted by Gutenberg was translated by none other than Eleanor Marx ... Karl Marx's youngest daughter. I had no idea. I probably should have known, but I didn't.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags:

Tuesday 09 May 2006

Mr Sammler's Planet

"Read it! He took a perfect sentence, the bastard, and he made it even better."


I've just finished reading Saul Bellow's Mr. Sammler's Planet. The quote above comes from an article by Elisabeth Sifton Editing Saul Bellow. After reading that astonishing voice, I'm in no mood to read anything else. So much else is so wooden, so lifeless. But Bellow is never "perfect"; indeed, it is his viscous, crowded, Yiddish-inspired, slang-rhythmed, rolling, greedy sentences, his imperfect sentences, that make him such a great writer. Perfection is for second-raters.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags:

Monday 08 May 2006

Chorlton Arts Festival

From Friday 19th to Sunday 28th May it is the 5th Chorlton Arts Festival:


This year brings the biggest programme to date, with over 80 performances, in over 40 different venues, over 8 days. There is everything you could wish for: dance, drama, music, poetry, film, art exhibitions, the arts in schools programme, and the annual arts trail on the meadows of Chorlton Ees.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags: ,

Monday 08 May 2006

New reviews

Very busy here ... and next weekend we move house. So that'll be fun. My books are mostly packed. I feel bereft, yet simultaneously freed from their gaze.


So, I don't think I'll get much time to blog today, but may I bring your attention to a couple of new reviews on the site? Ismo reviews The Fate of the Artist by Eddie Campbell, Paul reviews War & War by László Krasznahorkai and Max reviews NW14: The Anthology of New Writing. Go read.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags: ,

Friday 05 May 2006

Friday science round-up

This week's Friday science round-up:


  • The excellent RealClimate blog reviews three recently published books on climate change
  • GP, professor of gerontology, poet and playwright - Andrew Brown interviews polymath Raymond Tallis, who has a dig at mechanist theories of mind and the oversimplifications of evolutionary psychology
  • Science writer Carl Zimmer, writes about how a knowledge of evolutionary history can inform the development of medicine

Posted by Stuart Watkins
Tags:

Friday 05 May 2006

Nine libraries closing in Lancashire

Oh, I'm not happy about this: nine more libraries are closing in Lancashire (via Booksurfer):


... and Lancashire is not the only county with plans to close libraries. Politicians come up with all sorts of phrases about "access", "social inclusion" and make great play about the new digital resources provided through public libraries - but the bottom line is that there are less books in public libraries now than there were a few years ago, and a lot fewer libraries.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags:

Friday 05 May 2006

Nagel on Williams

Nice piece by Professor Thomas Nagel on Bernard Williams, over at the London Review of Books, reviewing three recent collections of Williams' essays from Princeton University Press: The Sense of the Past: Essays in the History of Philosophy; In the Beginning Was the Deed: Realism and Moralism in Political Argument and Philosophy as a Humanistic Discipline. (Also noted by the all-seeing-eye which is 3 Quarks.)

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags:

Friday 05 May 2006

April's Poetry

Always a pleasure when an issue of Poetry magazine lands on the mat. The April issue has just arrived here (as you'd expect, it takes a wee while to get over here to sunny Manchester!) and is a special Translation issue in celebration of America's National Poetry Month. New translations of Stéphane Mallarmé, Bertolt Brecht, Wislawa Szymborska, Jorge Luis Borges, Rainer Maria Rilke, and others by Seamus Heaney, Richard Wilbur, Michael Hofmann, Aleksandar Hemon, W.S. Merwin, Dana Gioia, A.E. Stallings, Richard Pevear & Larissa Volokhonsky, Marilyn Hacker and Carolyne Wright. Each translated poem is accompanied by a small (couple of hundred words) article by the translator explaining how and why they've made the decisions they've made when re-wording and re-working the original work. It's really fascinating stutt and there is some wonderful poems collected here. Reminded me of the very fine issue of Agenda (Translation as Metamorphosis; Vol.40 No.4) that came out back in 2004.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags:

Thursday 04 May 2006

KGB Bar Lit

KGB Bar, the former Ukrainian socialist party headquarters, has launched an online literary magazine (via Maud). This first issue is an "international issue" which includes an interview with Jhumpa Lahiri on PEN's World Voices.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags:

Thursday 04 May 2006

Wallace Stevens: Poetry and Criticism

Tim Morris's Wallace Stevens: Poetry and Criticism has just arrived from the excellent Salt. In his introduction, Morris states that there are a surfeit of books of Stevens criticism, and almost apologises for his effort. Well, from the first few pages that I've read (it only landed chez RSB yesterday), it seems pretty solid to me. The only other Stevens criticism I've read is Helen Vendler's Wallace Stevens: Words Chosen Out of Desire which is as good as you would expect from the Grand Dame of American poetry criticism, but it's the The Letters of Wallace Stevens that, for me, offer the most insight.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags:

Wednesday 03 May 2006

PEN Award for Poetry in Translation

I should have mentioned this yesterday: on Monday, all the 2006 PEN Literary Award Winners were announced. The PEN Award for Poetry in Translation, judged by Pierre Joris, went to Wilson Baldridge for his translation of Recumbents by Michel Deguy (Wesleyan University Press), a book I've championed before on RSB.


In his citation, he writes: “Recumbents is a work whose rhetorical and philosophical complexities make a successful translation a true tour de force. Exquisitely balancing poetic sensibility and philosophical insight, Wilson Baldridge has accomplished this feat through superb craftsmanship, an accurate ear for the complex music of the French original, and the depth of scholarship indispensable for the project. With its wide-ranging annotations, comprehensive introduction, and an afterword by Jacques Derrida (also translated by Baldridge), this bilingual volume is everything a poetic translation should be."

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags: ,

Wednesday 03 May 2006

Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2006

This year's Independent Foreign Fiction Prize has been won by Norwegian writer Per Petterson for his novel Out Stealing Horses (Harvill). Petterson shares the £10,000 award with his translator Anne Born. I've not read Petterson, but the runner-up for the prize was Fatelessness by Imre Kertesz (translated by Tim Wilkinson) which is an excellent novel.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags: , ,

Wednesday 03 May 2006

First Second Books

New graphic novel publisher First Second Books launches today. (See the First Second blog for more information.) RSB already has Ismo's review of Eddie Campbell's The Fate of the Artist up online (the book is published in the UK by Macmillan).

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags: , ,

Tuesday 02 May 2006

A Consideration of Poetry

Is poetry funny? Kay Ryan thinks so and discusses the idea in his essay A Consideration of Poetry (online and in the May issue of Poetry).


I have always felt that much of the best poetry is funny. Who can read Hopkins’s “The Windhover,” for instance, and not feel welling up inside a kind of giddiness indistinguishable from the impulse to laugh? I suppose there has got to be some line where one might say about a poem, “That’s too much nonsense,” but I think it is a line worth tempting. I am sure that there is a giggly aquifer under poetry.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags:

Tuesday 02 May 2006

Comments

Unbeknownst to me, the comments on RSB have been broken (not quite sure for how long). Anyway (thanks Lee!) all sorted now.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags:

Tuesday 02 May 2006

Colpitts Poetry

Both Ken Edwards, publisher behind Reality Street Editions, and Pierre Joris have brought to my attention to a very sad state of affairs: Arts Council England North East has withdrawn all funding from Colpitts Poetry - with immediate effect.


Colpitts boasts an unbroken tradition going back to 1975 and has claims to be considered one of the most important live-reading venues in the UK. This blow has come entirely without warning just as we were preparing to celebrate happily the culmination of our thirtieth-anniversary year, and obviously we feel galled that the tree, instead of being garlanded, now has the axe swinging around its base ready to bring thirty years crashing to the ground. But as poets who've read there have attested, it is a living history and not some abstract "heritage" that powers Colpitts as a vital space in which poets perform, promote and sell their work, network, collaborate and test their ideas in the company of a receptive and alive audience. Colpitts is its poets and its audience as much as its venue and its organisers, and this decision if allowed to stand will hit hard, by no means just locally. But it will also hit the region hard if Durham loses its place on the poetry map -- we're not exactly over-blessed with arts provision and funding in the area between Tyne & Wear and the Tees

[P]oets -- average income £7K per annum! -- have long since sold most of their books at readings rather than in bookshops, yet now they are to be further denied this opportunity in the North-East, denied the income that comes from giving readings, and denied audiences that are their lifeblood -- not just in an economic sense but in the sense that it's through communication and creative exchange with an audience that poets are able to try and strengthen their work, to the enrichment of both parties.

The Colpitts committee (Jackie Litherland, Michael Standen, Jo Colley, Patty O'Boyle, Ian Horn and Michael Ayton) have decided to fight this decision and have asked that word be spread. For more information, email info@colpittspoetry.co.uk. To oppose the decision please email:

mark.robinson@artscouncil.org.uk
mark.mulqueen@artscouncil.org.uk
rachael.ogden@artscouncil.org.uk

Please copy into your email gary.mckeone@artscouncil.org.uk (Gary is Head of Literature at London HQ).

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags:

Tuesday 02 May 2006

Science stuff

RSB's science editor, the lovely Stuart Watkins, has brought my attention to a few recent, decent science book reviews: Marek Kohn reviews Lewis Wolpert's Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast (a good book, says Marek, but its vision of man the tool-maker is now overlaid by one of humans as social animals); why we won't be mistaking machines for humans any time soon (via 3 Quarks); and the dangerous battle to find clues about our past (via SciTech Daily Review).

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags: ,

Tuesday 02 May 2006

Schmidt on Vendler

The has been much fuss recently over Helen Vendler's comments, in The New Republic, concerning Alice Quinn's Edgar Allan Poe & The Juke-Box (uncollected poems, drafts and fragments by the American poet Elizabeth Bishop). I like Helen Vendler. I like her uncompromising, New Critical perspective and the rigour of her reading, but she is wrong to see Alice Quinn's book as a "betrayal" of Bishop. Michael Schmidt, in his editorial for PN Review no.169, says:


Readers of Bishop’s poetry are interested in the poems, in how they work, in how they came about. It is an arrogation on Vendler’s part to speak for the poet who, in leaving her papers to an archive, spoke with sufficient, quiet eloquence, herself. To limit access to Bishop’s working, to reserve the progressive spectacle of her creative process to academic scrutiny, to preserve it from the poet’s common readers, is a very high-church thing to do.

(Don't forget that RSB readers can subscribe to PN Review at a special rate. And more RSB offers are on their way, with special deals coming from Poetry magazine and Agenda.)

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags: , , ,

Tuesday 02 May 2006

Intercapillary Space

Intercapillary Space is a new collective poetry blogzine mixing material "written by regular contributors with other pieces invited or submitted." One such regular contributor is Edmund Hardy whose name you may recognise as the author an excellent review of Gert Hofmann's Parable Of The Blind which I recently linked to. Also worth reading is Melissa Flores-Bórquez's recent IS post "A Nocturnall": Donne, Monk, Josipovici.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags: ,

Submit News to RSB

Please let us know about any literary-related news -- or submit press releases to RSB -- using this form.

-- Mark Thwaite, Managing Editor

Books of the Week

Edward Carpenter Edward Carpenter
Chushichi Tsuzuki
Cambridge University Press

This is the first full-scale biography of Edward Carpenter, an 'eminent Victorian' who played an intriguing role in the revival of Socialism in Britain in the late nineteenth century. 'A worthy heir of Carlyle and Ruskin', as Tolstoy called him, Carpenter tackled boldly the problems of alienation under the pressures of commercial civilisation, and developed a strongly personalised brand of Socialism which inspired both the Labour Party and its enemies, Syndicalism and Anarchism. A homosexual, he grappled with the problems of sexual alienation above all, and emerged as the foremost advocate of the homosexual cause at a time when it was a social 'taboo'. This study, based upon letters and many other personal documents, reveals much of Carpenter's personal life which has hitherto remained obscure, including his 'comradeship' with some of his working-men friends and his influence upon such notable literary figures as Siegfried Sassoon, E. M. Forster and D. H. Lawrence.

-- View archive

Vigilant Memory Vigilant Memory
R. Clifton Spargo
Johns Hopkins University Press

Vigilant Memory: Emmanuel Levinas, the Holocaust, and the Unjust Death focuses on the particular role of Emmanuel Levinas's thought in reasserting the ethical parameters for poststructuralist criticism in the aftermath of the Holocaust. More than simply situating Levinas's ethics within the larger context of his philosophy, R. Clifton Spargo offers a new explanation of its significance in relation to history. In critical readings of the limits and also the heretofore untapped possibilities of Levinasian ethics, Spargo explores the impact of the Holocaust on Levinas's various figures of injustice while examining the place of mourning, the bad conscience, the victim, and the stranger/neighbor as they appear in Levinas's work. Ultimately, Spargo ranges beyond Levinas's explicit philosophical or implicit political positions to calculate the necessary function of the "memory of injustice" in our cultural and political discourses on the characteristics of a just society.

-- View archive

Poem of the Week

Cousin Nancy

Miss Nancy Ellicott
Strode across the hills and broke them,
Rode across the hills and broke them --
The barren New England hills --
Riding to hounds
Over the cow-pasture.

Miss Nancy Ellicott smoked
And danced all the modern dances;
And her aunts were not quite sure how they felt about it,
But they knew that it was modern.

Upon the glazen shelves kept watch
Matthew and Waldo, guardians of the faith,
The army of unalterable law.

-- TS Eliot
Collected Poems 1909-62 (Faber and Faber)

-- View archive

Word of the Day

fascicle

Part of a book published in installments. For example, the Oxford English Dictionary was published in fascicles. more …

-- Powered by Wordsmith.org

October's Books of the Month

Everything Passes Everything Passes
Gabriel Josipovici
Auschwitz Report Auschwitz Report
Primo Levi

-- View archive