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Index: Notes & Comment

The world we live in.

Alan Wall: ‘he Plague is no longer a historical item, safely bracketed away with things that no longer happen. All those buboes. It is back on our streets, in our homes, in our lungs.’

Alan Jenkins at sea.

Anthony Howell: ‘Jenkins is a poet liberated (or sozzled) enough to allow the poem to follow its own music and conjure together phrases which project their melancholy magic.’

Each lexicon a labyrinth.

Alan Wall: ‘We have steamrolled our modern orthography and conventions on to the Shakespeare text. We should always try to get back to the original language of Shakespeare: it can be a revelation.’

On the small stuff.

Simon Collings: ‘The texts are ludic, baffling, funny, and thought provoking by turns… In the poem based on ‘itself’, we’re advised ‘remember the line of association controls itself’, and ‘the sentence reads itself as we listen’.

Baddiel’s divine desire.

Michelene Wandor: ‘While I am Jewish and a writer, I don’t have a sense that I ‘belong’, that I quite ‘fit’ in the literary world. I will have no part in writing about the Holocaust, as some other Jewish writers do.’

Jody Stewart’s momentary world.

Anthony Howell: ‘Stewart’s writing has been compared to that of Elizabeth Bishop, with justification. I am also reminded of the poems of Jean Garrigue…’

Of Entropy and Knees.

Alan Wall: ‘Dyer has noticed that he’s started to get on a bit, and he’s noticed that a lot of other people have too. So he has become interested, not only in the question of his knackered knees, but also in the question of late style. So, what is it, exactly?’

The tramp’s companion.

Alan Wall: ‘The essayistic mind-set has an open aperture at both ends. It does not close itself off with conclusions. It remains provisional, in order to dance on the page.’

The first 80 years of Bob Dylan.

Alan Wall: ‘The aristocracy to aim for was the aristocracy of the road. It was the lineage described in Guthrie’s autobiography, Bound for Glory. It was there in the great blues tradition of Blind Willie McTell and Robert Johnson. You keep on moving from town to town.’

Getting away.

Tom Lowenstein: ‘Mina Gorji must write fast: her first book appeared in 2020 and this was followed by Scale in 2022. This is a speed which proclaims not hurry, but urgency and the pressure of life-enhancing splinters of vision.’

Reality made difficult.

Michelene Wandor: ‘Riffing is one of the operative words for this collection; Howell’s improvisatory drive might owe much to the principles of modern jazz, but it also harks back to its own poetic ancestors.’

A prevailing darkness.

John Taylor: ‘Surely mysterious, intriguing, vivid vestiges are excavated and brought to the light of the printed page, but equally visible, as it were, remains the prevailing darkness.’

How writers do.

Michelene Wandor: ‘Cowan also directs valid attention to Derek Attridge’s The Singularity of Literature (2004), which further expands thinking about the ‘literary’. Quite how these concepts might directly infuse CW pedagogy is not clear.’

Difficult poetry.

Anthony Howell: ‘Difficulty is nothing new. As F.T. Prince explains in his treatise on the Italian influence on English lyrical verse, poetry is not simply adroit use of sprezzatura – a quality cited by Baldassare Castiglione in his Book of the Courtier, where it is defined as “a certain nonchalance, so as to conceal all art and make whatever one does or says appear to be without effort and almost without any thought about it”.’

A kind of hush.

Tom Lowenstein; ‘Brody’s agnostic mother presumably thus experienced an issue that was quintessentially Jewish. But that made it no less painful.’