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, 15 June 2016

"Metre 14 (Autumn, 2003)"

This magazine (with editors from Dublin, Hull and Prague) ceased publication a year or so after this issue. It's archived online. O'Driscoll's article about poetry readings has some useful quotes -

  • "the habit of reading or reciting one's own compositions to others [is a] coarse and barbaric [vice]" - Leopardi
  • "there are very few things that reveal the puerility of human nature ... as does this business of reciting one's own writings" - Leopardi
  • "For poetry readings the general rule is that if the poet is outnumbered it is a success" - Thomas Lynch
  • "the public reading of poetry is something particularly ghastly" - Wallace Stevens
  • Larkin resisted the lure of the reading tour on the grounds that "I don't want to go around pretending to be me"
  • Rosemary Tonks thought that when Dylan Thomas went on stage "he knew he was giving up another poem, practically, that he could have written"

There are also warnings about using readings to assess one's poems. Tonks thought the visual component of a poem important. Larkin though it useful to know "where one is in a poem". Tom Lubbock wrote that "while an audience can laugh if amused, there are no conventional noises for being moved or provoked to thought".

Evan Rail's review of "Short Fuse: The Global Anthology of New Fusion Poetry" (eds Philip Norton and Todd Swift) is blunt -

  • "it is a flabby bloated, self-indulgent collection"
  • "Short Fuse presents some remarkably bad poems"
  • "fusion poetry makes room at the table for adolescent angst, doggerel and prose"
  • "The editors of Short Fuse saw fit to include their own work, and their biographical notes are the longest in the book"
  • "Simon Armitage's "The Laughing Stock" is startling. Not startlingly good. Startlingly different, because it is good."
  • "Would it be so horrible if no one bought this book, or ever spoke of it again?"

There's a section entitled "After the Movement" with an interesting essay about Larkin and Donald Davie - their friendship, reviews of each other, and a comparison of Larkin's "Whitsun Weddings" with Davie's "In the Stopping Train". Here are some other quotes -

  • "The avant-garde - standing for what used to be called 'modernism' - is now in bad repute in the United States as well as in Kingsley Amis's United Kingdom ... Much of the blame for that lies with those apologists for modernism who have adopted in its defense anti-intellectual positions which betray the tough intellectualism of now dead modernists like Pound or Bunting or Olson", Donald Davie, 1987, Parnassus magazine.
  • G.S.Fraser described Larkin as a "Northern Ireland regional poet ... Irish poets, like Mr. Larkin, though writing in standard English, reflect another regional value, rootedness".
  • "poetry is music set to words", Dennis O'Driscoll
  • "I am not a poet by nature, but by inclination; for my mind moves most easily and happily amongst abstractions; it relates ideas far more readily than it relates experiences", Donald Davie, 1957
  • "One of [Donald Davie's favourite notions] was that there were three useful analogies for the understanding of literature in general and modern literature in particular. Poetry was like theatre, as in Yeats; like music, as in Pasternak and Eliot; and like sculpture, as in Pound", Denis Donoghue in "Words Alone", 2000.

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