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John Ashbery Was a Quiz Kid.

Anthony Howell; ‘Ashbery created intense little collages, and he was a collage in himself. Another artist he admired was Trevor Winkfield – also a poet – and British – whose iconic yet enigmatic paintings have disparate emblems in them which never quite collide, though they ought to; something one can understand the quiz kid responding to; the paintings are full of things which might mean, but do they? A feeling one can get when deep in Ashbery’s lines.’

The by-ways of John Ashbery.

Anthony Howell: ‘For the poet, at least, Ashbery is the model of the art-critic. His manner is urbane, and he refers to Satie and to Wallace Stevens more often than to Cezanne. The melange of the arts evoked by his writing suggests a cafe-society sadly missing these days, now that art-mags are no longer modeled on the Paris Review but gleam at us from the racks, like trade-journals for the purveyance of some non-applied craft.’

John Ashbery’s illumination of a mercurial adolescent.

Martin Sorrell: The translations made by an American octogenarian of a mercurial French adolescent bring us as close as we are likely to get in English to the wellspring of his genius. The distance in age and place between poet and translator is a happy irony. Ashbery’s Illuminations are set to become classic.

Typesetters’ delight.

Simon Collings: ‘So what might be some of the factors which have contributed to recent changes in British prose poetry? One important element, as David Caddy points out in his overview chapter, is that since the 1960s there has been an active community of poets working in prose formats, their practice influenced by developments in American and European poetry. ‘

More new translations from ‘The Dice Cup’.

Max Jacob (Ian Seed’s translation): ‘He had come down…but how? Then couples larger than life descended too. They came from the air in cases, inside Easter eggs. They were laughing, and the balcony of my parents’ house was tangled in threads dark as gunpowder. It was terrifying. The couples settled in my childhood home and we watched them through the window. For they were wicked.’

Discovery and rediscovery.

Ian Seed: ‘It feels like cheating. I have not had to struggle with my narrative prose poems in the way that I do with other kinds of writing, and yet I believe that the best of them are the only writings of mine that are somehow genuinely themselves. They have needed just a little nurturing from me in order to make their own way in the world.’

Roeg elements: innovation and risk.

Anthony Howell: ‘The millennium seems to be wishing upon us the restoration of mawkish and short-sighted values – perhaps not the values of patriotism, fidelity, grace and tradition that preoccupied swathes of nineteenth century verse, but in many ways the appeal is the same. It’s an appeal to the emotions.’

The Wide Summer Shelf, 2018 III.

Peter Riley: ‘Steve Ely pursues atrocity. Bloody, proud… holds five of his projects, all well blood-stained, one of which, “Werewolf” (formerly a Calder Valley Poetry pamphlet) has notes in which we can possibly locate a belief structure for his enterprise.’

Permanently Uncanonical.

A Fortnightly Review of Heretics of Language by Barry Schwabsky Black Square Editions 2017 | 248pp | $20.00 £15.04   By NIGEL WHEALE. BARRY SCHWABSKY IS art critic for The Nation, a prestigious American weekly with a list of contributors that includes Toni Morrison, E.L. Doctorow, Noam Chomsky (and Henry James, back in the day). […]

Five new poems by Emily Critchley.

Emily Critchley: ‘Remembering to remember. Remember to pass beyond you into the us
In the winged shadow, the space you will never know.
Taking me from myself, in the path
Which the blind birth of the day has consigned me to.’

New translations from ‘The Dice Cup’.

Ian Seed: ‘Max Jacob’s father was a tailor and the owner of an antique shop. Jacob’s large family, including uncles, aunts and cousins, often make an appearance in his poems. In 1894 Jacob left Quimper to study law in Paris, but abandoned his studies two years later to become an art critic. In 1899 he decided to become a painter, supporting himself through a series of menial clerical jobs. When he met Picasso in 1901, the two became friends immediately.’

Sonnets for all tastes.

Anthony Howell: ‘Satire employing the heroic couplet reads simply as a throwback to the eighteenth century – even a writer as talented as Clive James cannot bring it off. The column of satirical couplets is just too much of a cliché. However, intricate formal patterns continue to intrigue poets, whether of a modernist or of a traditionalist persuasion, and the sonnet is enjoying a revival, but has it ever failed to secure its adherents?’

What are perversions?

Anthony Howell: ‘The text is appropriately supplied with examples from films, and Benvenuto makes interesting points about our propensity to seek out and happily identify with the perverse vicariously via fiction – drama and film enabling a catharsis similar to a positive outcome from analysis, though it appears that analysis has no obligation to come to a conclusion: one can go on seeing one’s analyst as one might any confessor. The devil ensures that temptation is an ongoing affair.’

The prose poem.

Anthony Howell: ‘I am taken by the notion that the prose poem “forsakes the tool of the line break, just as blank verse forsakes rhyme, or free verse forsakes a standardised metre. Art seems to evolve, to grow, when some time honoured tenet is “let go of” – though this tendency to grow by relinquishment often offends pundits and traditionalists – who may accuse blank verse of “not rhyming”, for instance; ignoring the absurdity of their judgement.’

Asprezza.

Anthony Howell: ‘[In Drummond] one senses an intellectual struggle, a willingness to attempt something new. Drummond should be recognised as a pioneer: a poet prepared to experiment in his day, who made the madrigal his own. He is far more than a footnote in criticism devoted to Milton or Jonson.’