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

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Blog entries on '02 May 2006'

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
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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
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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and Pierre Joris have brought to my attention to a very sad state of affairs: Arts Council England North East has withdrawn all funding from Colpitts Poetry - with immediate effect.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
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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
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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
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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
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Serendipoetry

Omens, after Alexander Pushkin

I rode to meet you: dreams
like living beings swarmed around me
and the moon on my right side
followed me, burning.

I rode back: everything changed.
My soul in love was sad
and the moon on my left side
trailed me without hope.

To such endless impressions
we poets give ourselves absolutely,
making, in silence, omen of mere event,
until the world reflects the deepest needs of the soul.

-- Louise Gluck
Averno (Carcanet Press)

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Word of the Day

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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