Saturday, April 19, 2008

'What Hit Them' by Kelvin Corcoran

Oystercatcher Press, 4 coastguard Cottages, Lighthouse Close, Old Hunstanton, Norfolk, PE36 6EL, UK. Unpriced. ISBN: 978-1-905885-03-9.

Kelvin sent me this, his latest pamphlet a few weeks ago. He's in a productive phase at the moment, as this follows hard on the heels of his latest Shearsman book "Backward Turning Sea". This pamphlet is partly a response to the London South Bank's touring exhibition "Geometry of Fear", which features the group of young sculptors whose work came to prominence after the Second World War, including Lynn Chadwick, Reg Butler and Kenneth Armitage. This short collection is vintage Corcoran, with that slightly aslant view of the world and the skilful mixing of politics and lyric. It includes a nice dig at a couple of the darlings of Brit-Art:

This is not corporate art,
no diamond-studded skull
polished by the poor underground,
nor that bunk-up bed unmade
burnt in Saatchi's treasury.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Simon Turner has published one of my poems on the ezine he runs with George Ttoouli, Gists and Piths. Thank you Simon.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Carbon Atom

Sam Ward told me that Alexander Hutchison may be reading in Nottingham later this year, and as I didn't know the poet's work, Sam kindly sent me a copy of 'Carbon Atom', his 2006 collection. It's good stuff, in a Scottish tradition that that has some resemblance to his friend Gael Turnbull. It's good to read solidly crafted, earthy poetry with a clear speaking voice and a sense of humour. It's relaxing to read poetry that isn't dense, elliptical or abstract, and I thoroughly enjoyed this collection and will certainly turn up at Mr. Hutchison's reading if and when he gives one. Here's a sample:


Grass of levity
Span in brevity
Flower's felicity
Fire of misery
Wind's stability
Is mortality.

Simple utility
Fingered lubricity
Sprung from audacity
Known for rapacity
Any capacity
Is mortality.

Boundless servility
Neighbouring nillity
Primping polity
Bits of carnality
Vanity vanity
Is mortality.

What doesn't signify
Render or simplify
Impaled and crucified
Sat down or sanctified
Any identity
Is mortality.

Further and further space
Gruesome and human face
Graceless or born to grace
Here in this little space
Light in our little case
Is mortality.

[The first stanza is Anonymous and dates to 1609]
Books Received:

'What Hit Them' by Kelvin Corcoran, Oystercatcher Press.

'Carbon Atom' by Alexander Hutchison, Link-Light.

'Contains Mild Peril' by Adrian Buckner, Five Leaves Publications.

Will pontificate on each in turn...

Monday, April 7, 2008

There are some books that take me a long time to read because they deflect me onto other things. Reading Paz's 'The Labyrinth of Solitude' has got me interested in Sor Juana Inéz de la Cruz, on whom Paz was an authority, and I'm currently reading her works in the Penguin edition translated by Margeret Sayers Peden. Sor Juana was a sixteenth century Mexican nun - a most unlikely candidate for major poet, playwright, dazzling intellectual and proto-feminist, although she was all of these things. She turned her nun's cell into a sort of literary salon and amassed a huge library, and a collection of musical instruments and scientific equipment. Mexico, of course, didn't exist as such, but was part of New Spain, and in the grip of Roman Catholic orthodoxy. Sor Juana's recantation of her intellectual activities signed in her own blood soon before she died seems almost too dramatic to be true, but it is true. In an ideal and leisure-rich world I'd tackle Paz's monumental biography and study of Sor Juana. In the meantime I need to finish 'The Labyrinth of Solitude', unless it sends me off to somewhere else...