Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Stone Girl E-Pic by Ed Baker

Ed Baker's new book, Stone Girl E-Pic, is now published, and available for sale at Amazon, or on the Leafe Press website (via Paypal). I have to say (immodestly, as publisher) that it's a fine artefact, and a snip at £15.95 (inc. postage). It's large format (almost a foot high and 8.5 inches wide) and it's a fascimile of Ed's original typescript (yes, he typed 500 or so pages on a manual typewriter) including artwork - sometimes full page. The artwork had to be in B&W due to cost contraints, but Ed's a fine draftsman, so it still works (and in any case, many of the drawings were conceived in B&W). Here's the write-up from the Leafe site:

Leafe Press are excited to announce the publication of this major work by American poet and artist Ed Baker. This is a large format book, which includes visual artwork. "Stone Girl E-Pic" is a remarkable visual and minimalist poem, in which Baker's drawings are integrated with, and indeed, form part of, the poem itself. Baker is "in that stream of & flows with" the Objectivist and the Black Mountain poets, and is part of a circle of poets that includes Cid Corman and Theodore Enslin.

" is work that manages to retain all the elements and yet make contemporary Vispo look very empty, leaving the reader to look for the essentials of a more tradition-based visual poetry: a minimalism that matters and the most purely 'concrete' art that ever illustrated text. Writing that cuts to the bone, iconoclastic and original, and a 'Stone Girl' art sprung out of the lines themselves. Writing and art on Baker's terms."

Conrad DiDiodato

Monday, February 14, 2011

The never-ending search for the personality of W. Shakespeare continues apace; "never-ending" because there's not enough surviving evidence for us to know anything about his personal life or views - and it's apparent that there never will be - and because there'll always be people who will continue trying regardless. The latest hapless attempt is by our old friend Don Paterson, who has just published a book on Shakespeare's sonnets; a subject he was woefully ill-equipped to tackle - as this review illustrates - but which, of course, didn't stop him.

To quote Alistair Fowler's review: "[Paterson's approach] leads him to revive a Victorian idea of the Sonnets as literal autobiography. 'The Sonnets have to be read as a narrative of the progress of love.' Yes, but what kind of love? Homosexual, of course..."

or, as Paterson puts it in his precise scholarly language:

"Oh come on, people. The guy’s in love with a bloke."

This seems a case of imposing a contemporary sensibility onto the very different one prevailing four hundred years ago. After reading the review of Paterson's book. I looked up the introduction to the Oxford Complete Sonnets and Poems. The editor and Cambridge scholar Colin Burrow, had this to say:

"Twentieth century language for describing sexual behaviour (and even our tendency to prioritize sex as a leading human drive) does not fit the behaviour, or (which is all we have) the representations of behaviour of late sixteenth century males.... Does the sequence describe a homoerotic attachment which is physically consummated? Does it indicate that Shakespeare was a homosexual? ...these are the wrong questions to ask: the poems flirt with, but refuse to be fixed in settings, and they wonder about the boundaries between sexual desire, love and admiration.They are also the wrong sort of question to put to poems of this period. The 'thous' and 'yous' of the poem's address resist these fixities: they skate across time, addressing now an initimate audience of one, now the reader directly, and at other points they speak out to future ages. "Shakespeare's homosexuality" is a readerly fiction, generated by a desire to read narrative coherence into a loosely associated group of poems: the poems present a multiplicity of structural patterns and overlapping groups and semi-sequences. To fix their sexuality is to seek to lock them in, where most, perhaps, they seek to be free."

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Hello. I've been away from this blog lately, setting myself up on Facebook. I now realise that when people say "blogging is dead" what they mean is that social networking sites have taken over some of the things that people used blogs for; namely, making contacts, chatting and arranging nights out. But the blogosphere is still the place to go for anything more substantial than a few sentences, and, one could argue, freed from the need for small talk, appears to have become a more substantial place altogether.