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Index: Notes & Comment


Anthony Howell: ‘It is a stressful read, an account of one man’s very real suffering, given the uncertainty as to the outcome, the steep expenses incurred in hiring a legal team for defence (over a hundred thousand pounds, only fractionally remunerated), as well as the shredding of a personal and professional reputation’

On ‘Wood Circle’.

Rupsa Banerjee: ‘The poems, taken as isolated instances, do not generate specific images, but the collection as a whole evokes a fragility of reference which alternatively hinges on poetic language’s own resistant folds and the multiple surfaces of the object-world.’

What are poets for?

Alan Wall: ‘Tarn spends a lot of time looking back, including over the religions and the peoples he has studied. He has an insatiable curiosity where cultures are concerned. He looks forward too, with Solomonic gravitas.’


Anthony O’Hear: ‘Can there be education without some aims (against which success is to be judged)? Without some sense of where the lesson might lead, even if we as teachers should be prepared to adapt the goal in the light of what happens as we teach? Can there be teaching without assessment of some sort? Isn’t assessment an integral part of teaching (as opposed to uncommunicative lecturing)?’

Citizen Fisher.

Simon Collings: ‘In the margin next to this passage Fisher has written: ‘This is terrible, in its values as well as its narrative. But it’s true. True voyeur. The horror-freak-stuff is worst. But the point of view needs doing; and my own part as real voyeur. Everybody’s a voyeur at this time.’’

Nothing romantic here.

Desmond Egan: ‘I greatly admire Gardner’s mastery of precise, unexpected, everyday imagery…’

The Beatles: Yeah x 3.

Alan Wall: ‘So cataclysmic were the changes, that we cannot re-think ourselves into a history without the Beatles. If the Stones really were an alternative, they were an alternative that couldn’t have evolved the way they did without the Beatles. They even recorded their compositions.’

The pleasure of ferocity.

Michelene Wandor: These [stories by Malika Moustadraf] are harrowing; sexual prejudice and violence; unwilling prostitution; marital misery; cruelty to children and animals; the detritus and chaos of the domestic and urban environment, with cockroaches and decaying food.’


Anthony Howell: ‘The literary establishment, that is the commercially published establishment, here in the UK has always frowned on abstract writing and kept the gates closed against us that have engaged in such. But they can’t keep out the slammers.’

Everything that is the case.

Peter Robinson: ‘For something to ‘be the case’ in philosophy is of course not the same as ‘the case’ that Oscar Wilde puns on, namely the large valise such as was supposed to contain the two volumes of Miss Prism’s unusually sentimental novel in The Importance of Being Earnest, or, for that matter, the case of a woman suffering from advanced Parkinson’s Disease being taken away from her husband during the opening phases of a global pandemic.’

Najwan Darwish’s poetry of the undefeated.

Manash Firaq Bhattacharjee:’ Najwan Darwish does not find much hope left in affirming one’s identity just politically. He draws the figure of the Palestinian refugee as someone who is more complex and bleak at the same time. Complex due to cultural inheritance that is both Islamic and Christian roots. Bleak in the sense of having one’s home stolen by the devious designs of settler colonialism.’

The Roth/Bailey Contretemps.

William O’Rourke: ‘Dealing with the dead is both easier and harder, the usual paradox for nonfiction writers. All that research! A living author can just tell you. And Roth does and does. It’s hard to locate just when Roth decided his books would be his progeny and Bailey doesn’t wrestle with the question, or bring it up, but I have encountered almost no writers who have been so punctilious and protective of their own work and reputations as Roth.’

Secret agent.

David Platzer: ‘At an early age, Sollers saw that adults were failed children. He himself has remained something of a child into his advanced old age with an ever-jovial face and a twinkle never absent from his eyes, one of the two great contemporary French writers who proclaim the possibility of happiness in life, the other being the late Jean d’Ormesson (1925-2017) who shared Sollers’s great love of Venice.’

The Sequin ‘oh!’

Luke Roberts: ‘Several poems take up from Pindar, swapping out Ergoteles of Himera (et al.) for unlikely characters: the snooker player Alex Higgins gets a whole ode to himself; Manchester United (‘made in the image of god’) brush shoulders with Pelé; and there’s horse- racing, boxing, and plenty of cricket. Besides the classical inheritance, I wonder if Sequin was interested in sport because the rules of play are agreed in advance, and much of it is there on the surface. Her poems, beyond the quintet/quartet/sextet divisions, tend to keep their inner workings secret. But taken as a whole, her art is more like a pitch invasion.’

A resumé of Resistance.

Ian Seed: ‘”Curriculum Violette” offers us a fleeting and yet powerful portrait of the life of Violette Szabo (1921-45), a French-born British agent who fought alongside members of the French Resistance and who died in Ravensbrück concentration camp.’