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Cluster index: Peter Riley

Translation, Expanded Translation, Version, Mess.

Peter Riley: ‘The argument about expanded translation depends, since all of it is fervently dedicated to modernisation, on what version of the modern world you are moving the poem into, and in what terms the modern world is claimed as an improvement on the classical world, and what is its language. There always is a more or less proud gaining of the present, even in the heaviest complaint about it.’

Books received.

THE FOLLOWING TITLES have been received at the editorial address. More information may be obtained by clicking title links. Information on unlinked titles may be found by doing an online search for the publisher. Inclusion here does not preclude more comprehensive critical coverage by The Fortnightly Review. Editorial office: Fortnightly Review Le Ligny 2 rue […]

Zorile.

Peter Riley [from ‘Dawn Songs’]: ‘There are Zorile din casă (in the house), Zorile din afară (outside), de fereastra (at the window), al luminarilor (of the candles) and several emphasising particular figures of the poems – of the fairies, of the road, of the departure, of the rose-bush… There are also, paradoxically, Zorile subtitled la amiazi at noon, and de seara in the evening.’

The poetry of Autumn.

Peter Riley [on Simon Jarvis]: ‘It is a pleasure to witness the skills involved, to recognise that the discourse is complex, highly figured, serious, learned, philosophical/ religious/fanciful/anecdotal and what-have-you, and emerges as exactly what the author needs to say, indeed as a true thing, and yet by some literary sleight-of-hand the rhymes and the metrics all fall into place just where they should (or almost). ‘

Two poems from ‘Hushings’.

Peter Riley; ‘These spectres are no more than thoughts
but they are international. So I go to
the International Restaurant in Bradford’

Two poems from ‘Pennine Tales’.

Peter Riley: ‘To arrive, to stay, to become old, to learn
the details, the stone paths strung over the hills,
the football record, when the goods trains pass through.’

Anthony Mellors, Peter Philpott, and the poetry of rebellion.

Peter Riley: ‘I think that quite a few people will still remember Seamus Heaney’s appearance at the Cambridge Poetry Festival in 1977, in which he read to a large audience as the last of three poets, preceded by Allen Fisher and Lee Harwood. He mounted the podium and began by announcing, “Now we’ll get back to the true tradition of British poetry.” At this distance it is impossible to be sure of the exact wording, whether he said “true” or “real”, “British” or “English”. I don’t cite Heaney here as a criticism of his poetry, which is not relevant. But since some of the commentary now goes so far beyond the literary as to elevate him to the status of some kind of saint, this example of gross bad manners in insulting both a fellow-reader and the organisers at a large-scale public event, and the evident smug self-satisfaction with which it was conducted (I was there at the time) could be borne in mind where appropriate. He went on to read some Wordsworth.

On a poem by John Riley.

Peter Riley: ‘I therefore wanted to look in detail at what was actually happening in a John Riley poem, without any developmental or contextual narrative concerning his work or anything else, and to steer clear of generalities and automative associations (such as that to some people any mid-twentieth-century English poet worth reading has to be “not unlike Larkin” in the last analysis, however distant he or she may in fact be from the Emperor of Hull). To look, then, at what the language is doing in a John Riley poem.’

Pierre Reverdy’s ‘non-novel’.

Peter Riley: ‘The uncertainty between poetry and prose in the early works makes sense when you realise that the fully poetical writing he first reached, principally in The Thief… itself, is basically in prose. That is to say that however much disjuncture there may be among the little separate pieces of language which float around the page, each piece is itself written in perfectly normal syntax, in sentences or parts thereof, in which the parts of speech maintain their proper functions. ‘

The ‘watery business’ of Matthew Clegg and Fay Musselwhite.

Peter Riley: ‘We remain knowing where we are and what is happening while the linguistic medium twists and treks through a fairground of figures and glosses and verbal diversions which may derive from the story directly as metaphors, or indirectly as ornaments, or sometimes apparently not at all.’

Angela Leighton and Geraldine Monk.

Peter Riley: ‘This is a stodgy review of a book interested in language as sparkling, sturdy, personal-political, risk-taking, modern-ancestral, shouting and whispering, essentially a function of the human voice raised against wrong but freely theatrical. It has on occasion something in common with the tradition of northern stand-up comedy. The title-sequence works well, mainly by the intervention through the various apertures of intriguingly inexplicable spell-like episodes, especially in the shanties.’

Karl O’Hanlon and Daragh Breen.

Peter Riley: ‘In Breen, “it is not the hard objectivity by which some poets (such as Karl O’Hanlon) seek to drive the power of self from the poem by ever new twists and faults of language, in search of accuracy.”‘

Denise Riley and the ‘awkward lyric’.

Peter Riley: ‘Denise Riley’s songs, sung on the most serious and heavy of occasions, offer the brightness of the singing voice worked into extended thoughtfulness as much as into the Fool’s mockery of received versions of existence.’

Lorenzo Calogero and other poets in translation.

Peter Riley: ‘By 1945 Calogero had got himself into a fairly dreadful state of hopelessness and was comforted only by his distance from the demands and rewards of urban centrality, in a pastoral location which to him was more real than the university or the state.’

Ilhan Berk.

Peter Riley: ‘It seems that in his later years Berk cultivated an extreme version of what some poets would call “risk-taking” which mainly casts the task of cohering back on the reader. I like to think of this name (of a loved person) somehow represented as one leaf’s contribution to the large symphonic rustling of a tree, and this person having been singled out of a whole population to receive special regard. I feel that it is I who have done this rather than Berk.’