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Saturday, October 10, 2020

Clive, Charis, clips, poems


Interested in the multitudinous making of Clive Hicks-Jenkins, who has illuminated so many of my  books and made them beautiful? Here's yet another affordable chance to own a bit of his work.

Clip from his website: Launched today, my new print edition with Dan Bugg at Penfold Press, The Tiger’s Bride. It marks a return to a theme I explored in my first print with the Penfold Press, Man Slain by a Tiger. The two prints have a common interest in Staffordshire Pottery and in particular their ‘penny-dreadful’ celebration of awful events. Based on the Staffordshire group titled The Death of the Lion Queen, my print draws on the history of Ellen Bright, who in 1850 at Wombwell’s Menagerie entered a cage of mixed big cats for the entertainment of the crowd. 

Go here to read more about the tragical tale of Ellen Bright.


"But mostly, I’ve been reading this wonderful new novel by Marly Youmans. Holy smokes you guys, the tension in this thing, and the sense of foreignness, and the pacing! I’m not finished with it yet, but I can’t see it being bested for my favorite novel of the year." --writer Mischa Willett, in Buttondown (his newsletter)

Mischa Willett's collection, The Beta Elegy, is suddenly on sale for less than $5. at Amazon--the hardcover! Might be a mistake, but there it is for now...

Here's poet Dan Rattelle's review of The Beta Elegy. Clip: Irreverent. Colloquial. Unexpected. And daringly funny. I once read in a Creative Writing handbook that one should use words like ‘grandmother’ rather than ‘grandma’ in a poem because they carry more weight. Hmm. Willet is also willing to take for granted that his readers’ grandmas also baked lasagna and crocheted superfluous hats. And thus, I do not need to explain the joke. There is also a delightful poem about the sort of typeface used in a note to tell someone he cannot make it to a wedding in Long Island (why is Long Island funny? It just is).


Of course, a person (this person, anyway) often likes an interview because it's so dratted kindred to her own thoughts about many things, but read it anyway: Amit Majmudar at Tributaries.

Here's a clip, the opening paragraph: 
I’ll offer a preliminary historical note on vers libre. As Eliot practiced it, it was really a medley of prior verse forms, roughly juxtaposed. The phonetic runs of blank verse, rhyme, tercets, etc. of, say, Four Quartets, has the same fragmentary nature as the actual snippets of prior literature incorporated into The Waste Land. If practiced like that, free verse required, as its prerequisite, a mastering of or at least familiarity with meter and rhyme in practice; that is, it comes after you get the other ways of writing down. It is a “late” form both in the history of English language poetry and a “late” form in the poet’s technical development. This is no longer understood. Young poets arrive at free verse as their first stop; many never even try writing in meter and rhyme, much less failing often and failing joyfully at it, because they mistakenly locate it in the “past” of poetry.


"Youth at the Borderlands" 

Various poems and prose "tinies"

"The Watering Place" 
"House at the Edge of Sleep"

"The Aspen Wish"

"The Young Wife's Reply" at Autumn Sky Poetry Daily

(Response to "The Husband's Message," c. 970, from the Exeter Book)


  1. To call him square as once a Frenchman did
    Was slanderous - he had a baby’s lines.
    His stomach made an unrestrained bid
    To match his mango cheeks and, from the vines,
    Sketched on his nose, hung sweetish rosebud lips.
    Sine-curved, his textiled bulk and mincing hand
    Moved primly on well-polished tripping tips
    Proclaiming rosbif in an alien land.
    And on his head a condign, bulbous crown
    An overarching stroke to this cartoon,
    A melon, bowler, derby, curved surround,
    The perfect stigma for a male balloon.
    Basil, a herb, a feature of Red Square
    Deserves affection more than I can spare.

    This is the first bit of verse I ever wrote and retained (May 6 2010), started and completed on a two-hour train journey between Newport, South Wales, and Paddington station, London. I was destined to have lunch with Joe (Sometimes known as Plutarch) and the subject matter concerned a magazine editor we both knew fifty years previously.

    Its extramural significance far exceeds any of its dubious worth as poetry. I came upon it today while trawling my previous blog, Works Well, and I'd read five or six lines before I realised - with a start - I was its author. For those five or six lines I was thus able to view it with innocent objectivity, an unheard-of experience. In fact I arrived at some conclusions which I have since had to shelve given the circumstances. Subjectivity must be our only state when dealing with our own stuff.

    Which somehow fits another experience that occurred a little earlier. This post of yours directs readers towards what I'm guessing represents a month's worth of reading. I felt honour-bound to do a little tasting and clicked on The Aspen Wish, and thence The Absolute Necessity of Gingerbread by Molly Peacock (I wish I'd been called Molly Peacock, I'd have got further with that on my escutcheon ) But I broke off before I finished, overcome with the impossibility of what lay before me. I may respond to a poem in a series of synaptic connections but how may that be reduced to the infinitely more cumbersome and unwieldy medium known as the written word. And if that magically became possible how may I write intelligently about a collection of poems, a task that requires me to generalise about a handful of entities that must by their very nature be unique. In five-hundred words or a million. Innocent objectivity may be the answer but, alas, its fleeting nature means it will always be out of reach.

  2. Hah, that's a sharp (no, round, very round) portrait. And a genre one does not see often any longer. I had no idea that your poetry writing--or poem-keeping--was of such a recent date. How pleasant to write on a train between Wales and London!

    Must confess that I think of myself as having a bad memory (at least for things like historical dates and math rules--I'm great on the trivial detail.) And I often read a poem of mine that's not all that old as if it were by someone else, haha! Bad memory or too productive?

    Never feel honor bound to read me! But I am, nevertheless, honored when you do...


Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.