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Index: Notes & Comment

Peter Taylor in double or triple vision.

John Matthias: ‘I knew him, not in the South, but in the Midwest, where he came to Ohio State during a brief period itself interrupted by a year in Paris, about which he wrote one of his best stories, “Je Suis Perdu.” Among other things, that beautiful story is about a writer who has come to Paris too late—too late in the century, and too late in his own life.’

The Robots of Amazon.

Ian Gardner: ‘In a democratic society, laws determine how freedom of speech and expression are to be exercised, not the private whims of powerful businesses. Amazon has quickly grown to be an important retailer relied on by hundreds of thousands of customers and the decision to censor books is both a huge disappointment and a real concern.’

Tarn’s ‘Hölderliniae’. 

Anthony Rudolf: ‘The intensity and power, the imbrication and musicality, the driving rhythm and complex syntax, in short the poet’s brain work and heart work, generate a singular and beautiful book.’

Turner’s Loom.

Michael Hampton: ‘It is as a re-writer of London that Turner is most effective, joining the crowd of post-Sinclair names cited above who are re-imagining the city, a cross between Urbex trespassers and sober archivists, equipped with proprioceptive sensitivities that can tune into both ancient resonances as well as stand witness to traumatic contemporary change.’

A blurring of genres.

Simon Collings: ‘statements by various critics and authors are marshalled in support of the idea that prose poems are characterised by indeterminacy and an avoidance of closure. But the same can be said of much contemporary lyric poetry. In what way is a Rae Armantrout poem more ‘closed’ than a typical prose poem? How are Charles Simic’s prose poems more ‘open’ than his lineated poems?’

Words and lies.

Paul Cohen: ‘The Liar’s Dictionary is not just a showcase for its author’s linguistic ingenuity. Its affecting characterizations, its absorbing plot, and even its vivid evocation of the largely forgotten but deadly 1899 explosion at Barking have much to offer the reader.’

The Seicento and the Cult of Images.

Yves Bonnefoy: ‘We look at these rivers, these cities in the light; at these beings, haloed by an astounding dignity. We say to ourselves: that world is, perhaps. And within us, soon the ‘passion’ flames up, which is nothing but a love that has its object in our dreams—and we feel tempted to devote a ‘cult’ to certain images, at least.’

Peter Riley’s summer poetry 2020.

Peter Riley: ‘They differ greatly from each other, but if my intention has succeeded, they all allow the possibility of what Blake would have called “multiple vision”, however casually or marginally.’

Twin cities.

Michelene Wandor: ‘There are some wonderful pieces. Ed Vuillamy provides a vivid picture of the kaleidoscope that was Notting Hill in the ’60s, made all the sharper by his personal anecdotes. Tom Dyckhoff’s essay on the O2 (Greenwich) is pointed and illuminating.  ‘

Just a smack at Auden.

Alan Wall: ‘What Sansom discovers in the stanzas of this poem is a fair bit of confusion. Auden didn’t know what would become of the world (who did?) and has become intolerant of his own previous facility in diagnosing the world’s ills.’

The significance and frailty of Raymond Crump.

Nigel Wheale: ‘I must have puzzled over Crump’s poems when I first saw copies of The English Intelligencer in 1968. My teacher, Roger Langley, was intensively coaching me, post-A level, for the Cambridge Entry exams. I was sent a few gratis numbers, having tried to join that tightly corresponding, mimeographed circle, but had been politely declined membership, by Andrew Crozier — I was just a callow sixth-former, after all.’

Ottomania: three ‘globalist’ Turkish books.

. Generations, Diasporas, and Translations. A Fortnightly Review.   Ayse Papatya Bucak The Trojan War Museum W.W. Norton & Co. | 192pp | £9.99 $15.99 . Kaya Genç The Lion and the Nightingale I.B. Tauris | 208pp | £17.99 $24.95 . Haydar Ergülen Pomegranate Garden Parthian | 100pp |£8.19  $10.99  By MATT A. HANSON. . […]

On Women.

Natalia Ginzburg: ‘I have met so many women, and now I always find something worthy of commiseration in every single one of them, some kind of trouble, kept more or less secret, and more or less big: the tendency to fall down the well and find there a chance for suffering, which men do not know about — maybe because they have a much stronger health or they are smarter in forgetting about themselves and fully identifying with their jobs, they are more assertive and actual owners of their own body, and of their life, and are freer in general.’ (Nicoletta Asciuto, trans.)

Irony, ambiguity and London sleaze.

Anthony Howell: ‘Bathurst is excellent as the gloomy, grieving poet who becomes savagely critical of dates and dining later in the evening. Rebecca Johnson is fascinating as the dying woman who becomes a wraith who is then transformed into the potential flame for an affair which might or might not be reignited by lunch later.’

Keeping in step.

Alan Price: ‘Anthony Howell has chosen to write in a deliberately discursive style – he says so on the book’s back cover. Yet I did feel that his own “omelette” contained an excess of ingredients. The book begins to develop itchy feet.’