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Index: Notes & Comment

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.’

Eugene Dubnov, 1949–2019.

Anne Stevenson: ‘I suspect it was this personal, Romantic, very un-English sense of an enduring or eternal existence underlying Dubnov’s intense preoccupation with his own life that rendered his work inaccessible to many of his ‘post-modern’ contemporaries. His poems, however, convinced me that our mutual translations deserved an English publisher.’

The Perturbation of Baruch.

Anthony O’Hear: ‘This linking of the cosmic with the temporal, of the elevated with the lowly and the demotic, even the sordid, and of the well-intentioned with the ill-thought out, even the evil, permeates Baruch as it does much of Hill’s later work.’

The marital subtext.

Michelene Wandor: ‘”State of the Union” is on the opposite, more public, side of the marital spectrum: Tom and Louise meet in a dreary, virtually empty, Kentish Town pub before they visit a therapist to discuss their marriage. I watched first because a friend recommended it, and was gripped by the springy, bantering interplay of the dialogue, the marvellously intimate, subtle, nuanced close-up performances and the careful, unob(and unin)trusive direction. End of story? Well, not quite.’

Rankine’s uncomfortable citizenship.

Michelene 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.’