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Cluster index: Peter Riley

Summer 2019: New Poetry.

Peter Riley: ‘The big show-biz style promotions do often enough bestow their blessings on good poets and one of these poets did take that course. But they cannot be relied on, and the applause echoing round the Royal Festival Hall means no more than that at some pub open-mike series in the far counties.’

The ‘Discovery’ of W.S Graham.

Peter Riley: ‘As the “discovery” of Graham is conducted as a crescendo of praise, his achievement is represented as an active and positive series of acts on his part, a triumph of creativity or a “mastery” over his materials. This fails to notice what has been called the “near helplessness” in his confrontation with the independent powers of language, which runs through his career but is especially evident in the fall into utter simplicity when faced with the deaths of his friends and the singularity of love.’

Cards and notes from home and abroad.

. Spring 2019 By Peter Riley. Nancy Gaffield Meridian Longbarrow Press 2019 | 110pp hardback | £12.99 . Judith Willson, Colour Standards. 14 cards in two packs, post free from the poet here . Robert Desnos Á la Mystérieuse (1926) and Les Ténèbres (1927) translated by Martin Bell Art Translated 2018 | 84pp paperback | £9.99 […]

Five poets remark on prose poetry.

Peter Riley: ‘To avoid endless problems of definition, it would help if they were called “short prose pieces”, which is one thing they undeniably are. This was Eliot’s idea (who hated them). ‘

Another note on the prose poem.

Peter Riley: ‘Lineation actually helps a great deal in reaching the kind of linguistic condition I’m talking about, where the poem is no longer exactly speaking straight at you, but is overheard in the air and retained. If it’s possible to recognise something like this definition, then it is should be possible to recognise a piece which does it in prose and is certainly a prose-poem, with no more differentiation needed than technicalities of address and pace, with the possible corollary that in a poetry context prose poetry may hearken back to its informative and descriptive function, sometimes as an aside, a need to wake up and check the alarm clock.’

Opposing forces.

Peter Riley: ‘Among these poets any consideration of large-sale concern, such as war, or politics, or migration, or the earth, or economics, has to be approached obliquely through personal or inter-personal experience, landscape (rural), the impedimenta of daily existence, company, ancestry… etc. small-scale fates, little universes. Many of them are Irish or Northern Irish poets who (including Himself) have for a long time been granted the privilege of being accounted serious poets of war and politics by oblique or subsumed reference to the Troubles—the Troubles on my doorstep or in next-door’s field, without analysis or any impassioned appeal, everything restrained and particular (think of the distance between them and Whitman).’

First-person ‘identity’ poetry.

Peter Riley: ‘A first-person poetry it will always represent the poet’s quest for a personal identity in conditions of society and language which make that especially difficult through cultural dominance. It may even go so far as to define the poetry in this way whether the poet likes it or not: whatever he writes will agree to these readings not because of what he writes so much as of what he is…’

‘The lyricism of desperation…’

Peter Riley: ‘It is difficult to speak of groups among contemporary poets. All sorts of assumptions flow in concerning shared and mutual influences, common agendas, internecine conflicts and the group gets spoken of as if it were an independent creature with its own digestive system. How you read any one of them becomes infected with how you might read any other. John James and Barry MacSweeney were “associated” together — that should be enough.’

The Wide Summer Shelf, 2018 III.

Peter Riley: ‘Steve Ely pursues atrocity. Bloody, proud… holds five of his projects, all well blood-stained, one of which, “Werewolf” (formerly a Calder Valley Poetry pamphlet) has notes in which we can possibly locate a belief structure for his enterprise.’

The Wide Summer Shelf, 2018 II.

Peter Riley: ‘To disagree with the blurbs, she is not a shaman and does not “restore to us abandoned mythologies” (the tales are just not on that scale). John Burnside’s very serious statement, “…right dwelling is not just a theoretical or ideological concern; it must also be rooted in the gravity that structures everything, rich in the old pagan knowledge…” is impressive but rather pre-emptive and box-ticking. ‘

The Wide Summer Shelf, 2018 I.

Peter Riley: ‘We begin with a run of women poets from the richest use of centrality to way out over yonder. After that poets are clustered according to quite vague notions of subject and style.’

The Wide Summer Shelf 2018 — the introduction to a three-part series of reviews.

Peter Riley: ‘A lot of the comment on new books below hopes to show that while the centre maintains a certain stability in a continuity with ancestral poetry, it can also be unstable, and offers a great variety of possibilities to the practitioner, and there is no wall round it. In fact its edge is permeable.’

Translation, Expanded Translation, Version, Mess.

Peter Riley: ‘The argument about expanded translation depends, since all of it is fervently dedicated to modernisation, on what version of the modern world you are moving the poem into, and in what terms the modern world is claimed as an improvement on the classical world, and what is its language. There always is a more or less proud gaining of the present, even in the heaviest complaint about it.’

Books received.

THE FOLLOWING TITLES have been received at the editorial address. More information may be obtained by clicking title links. Information on unlinked titles may be found by doing an online search for the publisher. Inclusion here does not preclude more comprehensive critical coverage by The Fortnightly Review. Editorial office: Fortnightly Review Le Ligny 2 rue […]


Peter Riley [from ‘Dawn Songs’]: ‘There are Zorile din casă (in the house), Zorile din afară (outside), de fereastra (at the window), al luminarilor (of the candles) and several emphasising particular figures of the poems – of the fairies, of the road, of the departure, of the rose-bush… There are also, paradoxically, Zorile subtitled la amiazi at noon, and de seara in the evening.’