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Cluster index: Anthony Howell

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.’

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…’

Thoughts on constitutional monarchs.

Anthony Howell: ‘From what I hear (I haven’t watched yet) the blessing of all religions and denominations has been expressly emphasised, which is a good idea. I like the idea of the monarch improving on Henry VIII’s title and rebranding himself as the ‘Protector of the Faiths’.’

Three Thai poems.

Anthony Howell: ‘Thin sugarless canebrakes raise their good-for-nothing plumes
Against the dawn, and in despite of noon, and to the night.’

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”.’

Odin at the well.

Anthony Howell: ‘Odin went to Mímir,
Eye to eye, the wisest of the wise.
The blind eye is sacred to Nelson
Turning a patch to the order,

Dreaming up an image of the world
That his one receptor projected.’

Plum Pudding Books.

Anthony Howell: ‘…ponder the garden of forking paths that a library may conjure up in the mind of a writer such as Borges.’


Anthony Howell: ‘With manipulation, the fault-lines can be re-opened, just as they were re-opened in Yugoslavia, where NATO capitalised on Croatia’s Ustasha (pro-Nazi) back-story and sponsored Muslim fanaticism.’

Two Sequences

Anthony Howell: ‘Nikos and David were an exemplary couple. As I recall those days, they came to everything, and in the most natural way they acknowledged, supported and encouraged their literary and artistic friends.’


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.’

Georges Braque: A poetry of things.

Anthony Howell, on Morandi: ‘Ambivalence and ambiguity seem the very subject matter. How can all those objects actually balance on the top of that frail table, a top which seems tilted in our favour?’

Torpedo Fair.

Antony Howell: ‘Wheels on poles there pledge
The broken to the crows.
All battle is for hearts and minds,
So make quite sure she knows
Her rape is being done
By one who murdered her son.’


Anthony Howell: ‘For Dante, Purgatory is just part of his grand scheme. Didactic allegories in verse had already been pioneered by Brunetto Latini, with his Tesoretto appearing in 1295.’

On ‘Freeing Up’.

Anthony Howell: ‘It is often the case that there is something improvisatory about freeing up, and that is just what jazz seemed to offer poets such as Logue and Shiraishi, just as rap is potent for wordsmiths today. But what I do take issue with is this tendency to separate, or seek to separate, the milieu of poetry into some eternal opposition, pitching tightness of form against freedom of expression.’

Three poems.

Anthony Howell: ‘On the night I notice my infection.
Paranoia’s nothing but the truth.
Notoriety of our local murder rate
Encourages our black youth to read the papers.’