Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Went to a reading tonight at the Flying Goose - poets were Nadine Brummer and Robin Maunsell, both skilful and engaging writers. Their work was a mixture of anecdote, observation of the world and philosophical reflection. But, I found myself wondering as my attention wandered, is it poetry? I'd be daft to try and answer that, but... it seems to me that whatever a poem is 'about', be it any of the aforementioned things or abstract word-play, that thing must be transfigured by language. There were moments during tonight's reading when a phrase or cadence did just that, but mostly the writers' personal thoughts and assertions were in charge. This is a most unfair comparison, but, at the end of the evening, John Lucas read Auden's "On This Island" to commemorate WH's 100th anniversary. No doubts here - it was the real thing:

Look, stranger, on this island now
The leaping light for your delight discovers,
Stand stable here
And silent be,
That through the channels of the ear
May wander like a river
The swaying sound of the sea…

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