Literary reviews by Tim Love.
Warning: Rather than reviews, these are often notes in preparation for reviews that were never finished, or pleas for help with understanding pieces. See Litref Reviews - a rationale for details.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

"Reading Poetry" by Peter Barry (Manchester University Press, 2013)

I like the headings for the book's 3 parts - "Reading the lines", "Reading between the lines", and "Reading beyond the lines". As he says, experienced readers can begin at the 2nd part. In the introduction he doubts that elements of sound patterning are directly related to meaning. He writes that "we do not have to tune into phonetic bat-squeaks from the hinterlands of language in order to read and appreciate a poem" (p.6). He mentions the use of white space as a frame but he doesn't mention line-breaks except to say that "We must read sentence by sentence, not line by line, and I have nothing to say in this book which is more important than that" (p.15). The quotes I noted were -

  • In the 20th century "the 'default' mode line length and syllable count become variable, but stanzaic divisions are frequently retained", p.69
  • "For the deconstructionist, the text is a presence of words around an absence of meaning, a space which readers are constitutionally programmed to fill in", p.82
  • "ekphrasis … facilitates a consideration of the more general relationship between poems and their subject matter because the art-object poem seems to function as a kind of hinge, or halfway house between word and world", p.110
  • "The spousal bereavement cluster seems mainly a male phenomenon", p.127
  • "minimalism, in various forms and across all the arts, was fundamental to modernism", p.158

Of the example poems I particularly liked Causley's "Eden Rock" and "Interview with the Knife-Thrower's Assistant" by Patricia Ball.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Tim

    Good choices. Charles Causley and Patricia Ball were both fine poets.

    Best wishes from Simon R. Gladdish