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Index: Notes & Comment

Rankine’s uncomfortable citizenship.

Michelen Wandor: ‘This book does not make for comfortable reading; it may be cathartic for some, because of its passion. It may challenge others to think about their own ethnic place in their world. Some may find it too uncomfortable to confront. One reviewer called it ‘an unsettled hybrid’. It is also unsettling.’

Freewheeling.

Anthony Howell: ‘This is likely to be a freewheeling article, reviewing books written ages ago and works which have recently come out, and delving into poetry as well as prose, prose by poets, fiction as well as autobiography, and considering publishing houses as well as their books.’

In Fabric.

Simon Collings: ‘[Peter Strickland’s] new film revolves around a haunted red dress. Sheila works as a bank clerk. She’s a single mum, separated from her husband and raising their teenage son Vince. She’s looking for a new relationship, through the lonely hearts ads in the local paper, and buys a red dress, in a sale at the local department store, to wear on a date. It proves a fatal choice.’

Sequence, consequence and the random.

Michelene Wandor: ‘This collection…deserves to be read over time, starting at whatever page, or defying the publishers and reading the first (last) collection first, and the first (last) last. The idea of sequence has consequences and the random cannot solve the conundrum of how to read.’

T-units and n-grams.

Davina Allison: ‘To suggest that academic writing is anything other than syntactically complex and lexically rich is to deny writers access to a proper understanding of the academic sentence. This, in turn, denies them access to the knowledge and skills that correlate to expertise.’

Jackson’s ‘Opus’.

Peter McCarey: ‘W. D. Jackson has striven for decades to relate the individual in his moral frailty to society and its mutations in history. The field he has chosen, or in which he finds himself, is neither philosophy nor historiography, but poetry, and he looks to other poets to help him on his way. Given that most of his working life has been spent in Italy and Germany, he has imported a lot of classic and some contemporary Italian and German writing into this work.’

Adjunct angst.

Christine Gallant: ‘Parents of college students, and those thinking of entering doctoral programs, should read these chapters for a cold, plain-spoken description of the reality. Most doctoral students serve as part-time Teaching Assistants or Instructors of undergraduates for the length of their graduate studies—they are adjuncts. They teach most of the freshman-sophomore courses.’

Two innovative plays in London.

By ANTHONY HOWELL. Third Person Theatre Company Directed by Mark Phoenix with Mark Gray, Lesley Ambler, Aliona Ladus, Samantha Wright and Afro Ghignoni at Bread and Roses Sunday 7 April 2019 IT’S BEEN A good week for me, on the fringes of theatre-land. Last Sunday, I went to the Bread and Roses pub near Clapham […]

Satire for the Millennium.

By ANTHONY HOWELL. Twas a blith Prince exchang’d five hundred Crowns For a fair Turnip; Dig, dig on, O clowns! —Richard Lovelace (“On Sanazar’s being honoured…”) A definition of satire: Heinsius, in his dissertations on Horace, makes it for me, in these words; “Satire is a kind of poetry, without a series of action, invented […]

Pictures and words.

Peter O’BNrien: ‘The Cubists and Futurists, and Joyce and Beckett changed the way we look at images and the way we string words together. The linearity can be disrupted, the sequencing can be scrambled. Lacunae. Knots. Repetitions. Noughts. Everything is possible, and perhaps to be desired. And new connections are made between the ways the mind works and how it makes sense (or non-sense) of what it catches and absorbs.’

What good are you?

Anthony O’Hear: ‘Aristotle, who wrote as well about virtue as anyone, insists on the way that virtue depends on habits, and very largely on habits acquired in one’s upbringing, before one can begin to reason. If one is brought up rightly, then one’s love of the virtues, along with an appropriate sense of honour and its countervailing shame, will enable one to reason well about morality. Otherwise, if one is not already attracted to virtue, in moral matters one is in danger of reasoning cleverly, but badly, and also of acting badly and without shame. ‘

Underground fiction.

Michael Hampton: ‘A Ficto-Historical Theory of the London Underground is neither a fiction nor a history (though it borrows traits from both) but a courageous, if odd, hybrid. In 1776 Dr Johson remarked of the digressive novel Tristram Shandy, that “Nothing odd will do long”, underestimating its innovative features. It would be easy to make the same mistake again, ignoring the way Jobst as “amateur-scholar” has defamiliarized the experience of riding “the Tubes”. ‘

Back in the building.

Ian Seed: ‘Things went downhill for Elvis with tragic momentum after 1974. I have to admit that for a few years I didn’t listen much to his music anymore. I couldn’t tie in my discovery of poets such as T.S. Eliot with my admiration for Elvis. ‘

Gospel of honour.

Christopher Landrum: ‘Sommers asks important questions about the limits of honor in terms of quantity (or what he calls “escalation”) as well as quality (“moral content”) within an honor group. These limits are needed to balance a “well contained honor framework.” Still, it often seems as if Sommers wants this framework to be all-encompassing, and therefore, too disproportionate for my rural sensibility. He writes how “honor’s emphasis on reputation is crucial for building a cohesive and responsible community.” But there are times when he doesn’t seem to realize that what benefits a single town may not be beneficial for an entire country. ‘

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. ‘