Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Had a very civilized day on Saturday: we went to a garden party at Bromley House, an eighteenth century house in the centre of Nottingham, which was Nottingham's first subscripton library. My daughter works there part-time, as does one of our neighbours, which is how we got an invite. The library has some spectacular manuscripts dating back to the seventeenth century, and does a good job of preserving them.

After that, I met up with poets Adrian Buckner, Clive Allen and Julia Gaze, for one of our regular gatherings - not really a workshop; we just meet and discuss examples of our own and other people's work. We're not exactly like-minded. To give you an idea of the range, the samples we brought along to discuss were a short poem by 17C poet Thomas Bastard, a translation of a first-century AD Chinese poem by by Kenneth Rexroth, 'Man and Wife' by Robert Lowell (a poet I have an aversion to, though I can't deny the power of some his stuff), and one of Ted Berrigan's sonnets. Adrian and I have radically different notions of what constitutes poetry, but I'm very grateful for the discussions I have with him, which at least knock me out of the rut which I'm always in danger of getting into.


richard lopez said...


for the past year i've been involved with a monthly workshop of sorts with a host of wide-ranging poets. not all of us see eye-to-eye either when it comes to poetry and poets but the meetings get me out of my rut and outside my own habits that are in danger of hardening into a brittle set of rehearsals. i've long been a writer who reads because of the pure pleasure it provides and i've long thought that reading a range of writings is always for the good.

lowell i likes lots, even if i think much of his later work is rather dry and too reactionary toward his own circumstances.

bastard is a marvelous name, one that i remember from a blog entry by martin stannard.

i love english translations of the classical chinese poets and at one time their clarity of sound and vision helped me thru a very difficult period.

berrigan i just simply love.

Ed Baker said...

dropping habits a most difficult thing to do
I call 'dropping habits'
-'breaking the rules'

habits and rules

or habits AS rules too easy! and,

as 'we' who are not yet brain-dead-zombies know habits/rules
lead us into a
mediocrity and (mere) imitation

maybe, simply, perfecting intentions is all that matters?

Alan Baker said...

richard, you say: 'reading a range of writings is always for the good'. Yes. You habve keep your mind open to surprises and and epiphanies which can come form the most unlikely places. I did like the Lowell poem (it was 'Man and Wife') more after our discussion. It was me who took the Berrigan sonnet.

As for Thomas Bastard, the anthology it came from described him as 'a country parson who made little headway in life'. What a put-down! Actually, I like to think that 'making little headway in life' is something I've done quite successfully.

Ed: yes, dropping habits is good, though hard to do!