I’ve neglected this blog for a while now, and have a growing backlog of poetry books that I’m keen to write about — any of which would be a more rewarding subject than the landfill-fire of cultural vandalism unfolding at the University of Leicester.Continue reading
I picked up Laura Kilbride’s In the square (Punch Press, 2014) several years ago, but a succession of house-moves and other disruptions meant that I hadn’t properly read it until now. Which is my serious loss.
The book fell off the shelf while I was packing for a few days away, and I’ve been reading it obsessively ever since. It’s an extraordinary work: a thousand lines of intense, almost incantatory verse that seem propelled by their own sound-patterns and syntax even as they weave multiple conflicting meanings into a strange symphonic whole. Line after line pulls off the difficult trick of conveying its own necessity — the conviction that these words, and only these words, flow inevitably from the ones before, with an energy, harmony and syntactic strength that tirelessly keep bringing you back for more.Continue reading
For a few months now I’ve been under the spell of the 16th century French poet Louise Labé — or, rather, of Olivia McCannon’s versions of Labé in Modern Poetry in Translation 2016/1. A Renaissance woman in both senses of the term and a feminist centuries before the word was coined, Labé also wrote poetry that, in the words of McCannon’s MPT introduction, “rewrites the male Petrarchan tradition, giving it a blast of positive, debunking energy, a strong female voice and an intelligent physicality.” Continue reading
Peter Philpott’s Ianthe Poems is dedicated to the poet’s granddaughter, and many of the poems play with personae that might credibly be identified with the poet or the young Ianthe. There have been many poems — and indeed whole collections — about parenthood over recent decades, but notably fewer structured around grandparenthood. Continue reading
I enjoyed Jenny Lewis’s Fathom very much. When I organized a multi-poet reading in Jericho last year I was delighted that Lewis agreed to take part, and her performance of Gilgamesh’s lament will stay with me for a long time. In person I found her charming, humble, smart and funny, so I have to admit to being predisposed to like her latest collection, Taking Mesopotamia, before I’d opened it.
In the event, “like” doesn’t begin to do these poems justice. Continue reading