Author Archive

the eternal gazelle speaks: Heaney, Hughes and Brodsky on the inner language

November 10, 2008

It’s that old translation business again, but as we all deal with it: the inner translation each of us must do whenever we put pen to paper. I wrote about it the other week, in relation to the Catalan poet Joan Margarit and his image of a crypt, which is the first language, opened perhaps by a secret password, and the “cathedral” of the common cultural language. Now we have Seamus Heaney (and, at second hand, or rather peering over Heaney’s shoulder to do a bit of back-seat driving, Ted Hughes) at it as well:

“Every writer lives between the vernacular given – whether it be the vernacular of Oxford or of the Caribbean – and some received idiom from the tradition. Ted Hughes had a marvellous little parable about this. Imagine, he said, a flock of gazelles grazing. One gazelle flicks its tail and all the gazelles flick their tails as if to say ‘We are eternal gazelle’. Most writers, Hughes says, have a first speech of that sort – a dialect of the tribe or the class or whatever. Suppose they are in a foreign city and they hear a familiar accent, it’s like a gazelle tail flicking, so then the other gazelle flicks and thinks, ‘Ah, I’m at home here, I’m strong here’. For every writer, there’s that first language and then there’s the lingua franca.”

SEE! I was right. I said at the time that I thought this was the same for everybody, and I’m vindicated. Not that I needed vindicating. Here’s what I said:

“It strikes me though that there is another way of reading this idea, too, which is less about empirical – or “cultural” – language, and more about each person’s own private language – our unconscious lexicon, our dream world which has its own language, unknown even to us except in translation. In other words, we are all simultaneously translating our inner material, our crypt-material, as we go. (For Margarit this will add another layer to his process…)”

Three weeks ago I asked what Brodsky would make of it. According to Heaney: “Joseph Brodsky believed we must keep to the lingua franca of the forms, but I am equally inclined to the gazelle-speak of south Derry.”

There we have it. Well, that was from the Guardian’s extract from the interview with Denis O’Driscoll (and they are in conversation on a stage in London even as I speak. Shame…) More to follow, I hope, when I’ve seen the book.

I’m posting this at Baroque in Hackney, too.


lost in translation

November 3, 2008

Here’s an appropriate one for this week, when one is cruelly aware of the narrow limitations within which we all operate. The story of the Tower of Babel really is a tragedy.

The Welsh text on this sign in Swansea – which apparently arrived back with some speed when the sign guys emailed their text to the translator – begins: “I am not in the office at the moment…”

Motion, Kapovich, Alvi, Margarit

November 2, 2008

Last night’s final event of this year’s festival was to celebrate the Arvon International Poetry Prize. Yet another competition I didn’t enter this year! (I can definitively tell you I won’t be winning the National, and I’m not one of the shortlisted poets in this week’s TLS.)

The Arvon International awards ceremony had taken place the night before, on Halloween. Congratulations to the winners:
Classic FM First Prize – Peter Daniels with Shoreditch Orchid
Second Price – Giles Goodland with Serpent
Third Prize – Thomas Lynch with Mr President
Commendation – Alan Stubbs with A Philosophical Provocation
Commendation – Frances Thompson with Letter
Commendation – Frances Leviston with Story

Our little part in their festivities was last night’s excellent reading. Two of the judges, Andrew Motion and Moniza Alvi (what happened to Alice Oswald?) had a chance to invite the international poet of their choice to read with them. It was a marvellous reading. The two invited poets were both wonderful, and the ways in which they were wonderful differed hugely from each other and again from the two judges.

Andrew Motion invited Katia Kapovich, an intense – and intensely Russian – poet now based in the USA, whose book Cossacks and Bandits blew the top of my head off earlier this year. Moniza Alvi invited Joan Margarit, an older Catalan poet whose work is quieter, more overtly emotional, and whose presence is very kindly and rather theatrical. Motion himself read exclusively from the material for his next book which will be out in the spring – all written in the past eighteen months, a period, he says, of prolific creativity. And Alvi read from her childlike Jungle Book-inspired sequence, with its dreamy treatment of the present cultural and natural disasters that await us.

First up: Andrew Motion. There is something I’ve always liked about him. He’s cropped up in different guises over the years, always with a sort of open aspect that makes him feel very real…

His new material, he says, has jolted him out of a several-year rut, or block, which has coincided with the Laureateship. In the past eighteen months he’s written more than in years, and he has a new book, The Cinder Path, due out in the spring. The formal theme seems to be the “found” poem based on someone else’s words – a theme shared with Medbh McGuckian, of course, who read earlier this week.

He started with a poem about Harry Patch, the last surviving person who went over the top in the First War. Harry Patch was 109 when Motion met him (“he’s 110 now”) and amazingly sparky and together. Patch says that “almost everything he remembers of his enormously long life is filtered through the four months he spent in France in the First World War.” He only survived by accident – he was injured, and the war ended while he was recuperating.

Motion moved on to a poem based on an extraordinary book of writings published posthumously by the mother of the author, James Farrer, a 20-year-old bomber pilot in the Second World War: “we only live by death’s negligence” – certainly true of Patch.

A beautiful, atmospheric poem based on the memoir of Marc Chagall’s first wife, Bella Rosenfeld, about their home town, Vitebsk, which Katia Kapovich informs us is pronounced VITebsk. (Of course – if it were stressed on the second syllable, it would be ViTIEBSK. See?

Then Kapovich, who – I’ll be open, here – is the reason I went to this reading. She was nervous, I think. It was a two- or three-poem warm-up, but when she did warm up she was focused and powerful. She read almost entirely from Cossacks and Bandits, in both English and Russian. Her English is heavily-enough accented that it needed a little adjustment to get used to, especially after the mellifluous tones of Motion, and her words are fluently sophisticated and dazzling.

She is uncompromisingly intellectual; and she is so without apparent personal vanity – no make up, for example – that the effect is to put all the emphasis on the poems themselves. There is a no-nonsense seriousness about her, by which I don’t mean portentous or grim – she is a dazzlingly quick and funny talker, with no side at all.

She talked about the “natural alienation” English presents to her, how she had found it very difficult to write about some things in Russian. At 19 she had joined a “little group of provincial dissidents” and, arrested, found herself in a mental asylum. She said, “AFter I had my first dream in English, and cried in it, I realised I can write in it!” The poem she read, Paper Plane to Nowhere, is the first poem she ever wrote in English, and apparently it took about 15 (or did she say 50? It’s quite long) minutes.

I’ve read it before, and admired it, and reviewed it, but by the end of the reading I could feel the tears about to spring. And she finished with a poem about her mother, fleeing Romania as a child, at risk of missing her trains as at each station she passed through she wrote on the wall her name and destination so her father might stand a chance of finding her and her mother. This in response to Motion’s final poem about Vitebsk station.

Moniza Alvi opened the second half with her sequence of poems based on Kipling’s Just so Stories, which of course are all called “How the” something: How The World Split In Two, How The Answers Got Their Questions, How The Countries Slipped Away. Written in the wake of 9/11, these poems seem to me hampered by their deliberate childlikeness (I confess I always found Kipling’s originals patronisingly whimsical as a kid): there is something watercolour-bright about them, but they just don’t address the seriousness and depth of the issues at hand.

A poem inspired by the execution of Saddam Hussain – danger alert! – began with a terrifyingly inappropriate image of a raindrop clinging to a branch, a flower “about to say goodbye to its supporting stem” (I paraphrase from memory, sorry) – and then miraculously recovered when it turned out that the images represented the fragile state of the “trembling” world. Unfortunately the word “hanging” did describe “the tyrant” as well as the raindrop. Still, nimble footwork, and worth finding on paper to see how it works.

I do wonder, though – and I know I’m not the only one – why Moniza Alvi reads her poems as if she were a presenter on Children’s Hour, or a nurse addressing a patient with advanced Alzheimers. We can follow complex sentences, we are not as the raindrop trembling. Chacun à son goût…

I realise there are possibly issues of cultural/poetic tradition here, to do with non-linear thought and the tradition of expression etc; but I’m not sure that simply saying that is a respectful way to deal with someone’s work, as it implies that you shouldn’t expect to get much out of it in the first place. After all, the Chinese poet Yang Lian (who didn’t read this week, but I met him, at last, and so I have been reading/ rereading his Concentric Circles) has engaged very deeply with Pound, filtering his work through Chinese ideas in ways that are new and surprising. And these poems are based on the work of an English writer.

Alvi’s choice of visiting poet suited her immediate, instinctive, emotional approach: the Catalan poet Joan (Think “Juan” but pronouncing the J) Margarit’s work latterly revolves around the life and death of his daughter, Joana, who had a degenerative motor neuron condition and died at the age of 30. (He was born in 1937.) His poems are direct, unfussy, full of arresting imagery.

His reading was very Latin, with sweeping arm gestures, a rising crescendo of voice, and an utter emotional authority. It struck me that such a public delivery style applied to such intimate, personal material is part of the “original language” element of these poems. Here in England it’s not the usual thing to declaim one’s feelings in this way. The Joana poems are filled with intense sadness, of the pure healing kind, and were leavened in this reading by the finale, a short, sweet love poem to his wife. He made almost sweeping bows to the applause, and without realising what I was going to write till I wrote it, I put in my notebook the one word, “theatrical.” In a good way.

I wrote on my own blog before the week began about some interesting interviews he has given, talking about how strange it is writing in his childhood language of Catalan, when Spanish is the “cultural language” – a sort of translation before the poem has even been written. This probably applies to Moniza Alvi, as well. (In fact, I know it sounds stupid, and I’m not in exile as much as simply transplanted, but these issues of cultural identity are not unknown to me, either. When I started writing again, the initial difficulties of reconciling my American and English selves were such that I realised that split may have accounted in part for the years of not writing.)

In all, another wonderful, stimulating evening! A fine night to go out on.

some words on words

October 28, 2008

Earlier today I quoted Tomas Venclova, who read in the Purcell Room last night, from his poem Commentary:

Above all, though it’s hard, love language –
humbled in newspapers, obituaries saturated with lies,
in the bedroom’s close darkness, the informer’s confession,
in the cry at the bazaar, trenches, the stench of hospital wards,

in third-rate theatres, secret police offices, on lavatory walls…

then you’ll be the one who ’saw that it was good’ –
because letters float across the page like sludge on a river,
and suddenly bushes, an embankment, a city come into view.
And it doesn’t matter who reads this (if anyone ever).

Well, then this afternoon I was (sitting in the hairdressers) working on something completely different, and came across these lines in James Merrill’s wonderful poem Lost in Translation:

… the fluted nouns
Made taller, lonelier than in life
By leaf-carved capitals in the afterglow.
The owlet umlaut peeps and hoots
Above the open vowel. And after rain
A deep reverberation fills with stars.

Lost, is it, buried? One more missing piece?

But nothing’s lost. Or else: all is translation
And every bit of us is lost in it…

Sean O’Brien’s lecture

October 28, 2008

Just a note to amend my earlier prediction that I wold have read and had something to comment on this lecture by now. It is not yet on the web, and the Poetry Book Society is unable to tell me when they think it might be. So whether I had the wrong end of the stick or not I don’t know, but I apologise for raising expectations! I’ll comment on it on Baroque in Hackney as and when it becomes available.

McGuckian, Maxwell, Venclova

October 28, 2008

Last night was a funny mix of types: there seemed to be less coherence in the line-up than there had been the other night. Medbh McGuckian and Glyn Maxwell bounced off each other in a surprisingly interesting way, though his bounciness and in-yer-face delivery sort of eclipsed her quiet, intelligent, slightly wry reading.

Medbh McGuckian, interpreting the Poetry International theme of “freedom,” read some marvellous poems about the lives of women. It was never explicitly stated that the women in question were not alive now, but the trope is largely historical/mythological, so that our emancipated modernity is seen through the prism of time. Poems made like recipes for childbed cures, household instructions, entries in 17th century commonplace books; a poem based in a French text instructing priests how to analyse the milk to determine the suitability of the prospective wet nurse.

Her drapy grey outfit, Yoshi Yamomoto meets the Middle Ages, lent verisimilitude to her reading. I’ve never heard her read before; chatting over getting my books signed, I liked her tremendously.

Maxwell bounded up to the stage in the single most shapeless, 10-year-old Primark-looking T shirt I’ve ever seen: brown, with white around the neck and sleeves, and just kind of weirdly bagging out around him as a stood at the podium. You have to think this is “boyishness” taken too far. (Really, Glyn. People paid £8.50 to get in there to see you.)

Anyway, boyish and bouncy, he delivered a rousing reading of some fragments of a play not yet written, based on a wheeze to do with the Medieval mystery plays – and finished with a very funny poem based on a suburban town production of the complete Mystery cycle, clearly a yearly community event, like a fête. Fun.

Adam Foulds started the second half, unfortunately as the unannounced replacement for the absent Leontia Flynn, reading a long extract from his even longer poem about the Mau Mau uprising, The Broken Word. It sounded interesting, but it was a slightly uncompromising introduction. I only know what he was reading because I looked it up this morning, so quick was whatever introduction he gave it last night. There seemed to be no attempt to engage an audience who, let’s face it, hadn’t come there to see him (no fault of ours or his; but a small attempt to win us over might have been nice!).

While we’re on the subject of What They Wore, I’ll remark that Foulds’ black suit, smart as it was, also created a strange blankness where one was looking for signifiers (Who is this person? What is his stuff about? How old is he? What’s his general shtick, what’s he like?), especially when combined with his lack of interaction with the audience.

The work sounds good.

Tomas Venclova, a Lithuanian – that is, ex-Soviet – elder statesman of European poetry, an ex-dissident and friend of Joseph Brodsky who has been a professor at Yale since 1985, finished the night off in grand, understated style. Also very formal, in a quiet grey suit that might have been from any time, any place, and a stripy tie that looked silver from where I was sitting. A gentle, courtly, stooped man with white hair and a slightly nonplussed expression. A little daunting, frankly, and I got the impression the other poets thought so, too. He read with his translator, Ellen Hinsey, an American woman who lives in Paris and who is a poet in her own right.

This shows, by the way: this is one of the best translations to read that I’ve ever come across. That is, it doesn’t jar. It flows like the intention of the poet, especially important as Venclova writes very deliberately, relying on classical form for the vestiges of civilisation he so nearly lost, growing up in post-war ruins.

He read one poem in Lithuanian, then read in English by Hinsey; after that, he introduced, and she read, while he stood by listening with intense concentration, until the final poem, which is not in the new Bloodaxe edition of his work. It was an electrifying finish, based on repetition which comes through the language barrier loud and clear.

“In the fire in the fire in the fire in the fire in the fire,” the poem began. Each stanza began with a similar line: “In the water in the water in the water in the water in the water.” “Underground underground underground underground underground.” “A spark a speck a split [?] a breach in the fire” – and ending with, “All things are ready for death when the syllable sparks.” In Lithuanian it was remarkable.

One poem they read last night was Commentary, which is in the new Bloodaxe book:

Above all, though it’s hard, love language –
humbled in newspapers, obituaries saturated with lies,
in the bedroom’s close darkness, the informer’s confession,
in the cry at the bazaar, trenches, the stench of hospital wards,

in third-rate theatres, secret police offices, on lavatory walls…

then you’ll be the one who ‘saw that it was good’ –
because letters float across the page like sludge on a river,
and suddenly bushes, an embankment, a city come into view.
And it doesn’t matter who reads this (if anyone ever).

Standing in the queue for signatures afterwards, while a chamber orchestra on the other side of the Queen Elizabeth Hall played some Baroque interlude, I quipped to my friend that I felt as if I was in church, waiting to take communion – and it suddenly didn’t feel so very far off that.

“the past falls open anywhere”

October 26, 2008

… and that is what it did this afternoon for this blogger. Of course, so does the future. And the present. Especially the present. Many impressions, opinions, ideas, nascent reactions, conversations, observations.

Today Sean O’Brien delivered his TS Eliot prize lecture, on the subject of Michael Donaghy, Black Ice and Rain and City of God.

The text will be available tomorrow on the Poetry Book Society’s website; until I’ve had a chance to read it I don’t want to say much about what he said. I took notes but there were too many things flying around in my brain to process it very efficiently at the time, and more has happened since then – in the form of conversations, observations and the posts written earlier today by fellow bloggers in attendance. So I’ll sleep on it before saying anything in detail about the substance of his remarks!

(My notes, however, are written up more patchily, or notily, than this piece on my own blog, Baroque in Hackney.)

I’ll just say this. With the two big Donaghy Collecteds – prose and poetry – due out in March, what O’Brien is doing with this lecture seems to me significant. He’s heralding in the next era, he’s laying the foundation stone for the corpus of serious critical work about Donaghy’s poetry – as distinct from the memoirs, grief-stricken anecdotage and tributes already written about him (among which I count my own two offerings, both written in the months or even weeks after his death in 2004). (Joshua Mehigan also wrote a fine piece for the New Criterion in the USA in about 2005, but that also seems different in kind from what O’Brien delivered today.)

This is not a review or critique of what O’Brien has to say. I’ll leave that, as I say, for after I’ve read the lecture. But one thing he did was to say – and here it will be better to check with the text – that Black Ice and Rain is one of the finest, or did he say the finest, poem in English of the past fifty years. He explicitly takes on the implicit limits imposed by comparison with Browning, and lists several ways in which he thinks this poem opens out the capacities of the modern dramatic monologue – or narrative poem. I remember that much, and it’s a big thing for him to do.

freedom of the poem: 3

October 26, 2008

We’ve been talking about freedom and poetry, poets and freedom, freedom and writers. I had a thought last night about the freedom of the poem itself. More specifically, the freedom of the poem to speak for itself. We had a Belorusian poet, a Palestinian poet and two American poets, perhaps unfortunately – or fortunately? What do we think? – divided into two sets, with the two “International” ones first and the two Americans in the second.

What I noticed was perhaps a cultural difference (although Valzhyna Mort lives in America now; but she clearly ocmes out of a different set of cultural influences). Both Mort and Barghouti read their poems in their original languages, with no preambles. In fact, Barghouti said precisely two things in English during his entire reading. He said, “This last poem is very short.” And he said, “Thank you.”

They commanded the stage with their silences as much as with their words, and the words were as compelling as if they’d been in English, if not more so (and this is something I’ve found previously, as when a reading from Eugene Onegin in Russian brought tears to my eyes, or when I went to see Bergman’s stage production of Miss Julie in Swedish). Barghouti’s speech was so clear that even with no understanding of his meanings, I was moved almost to tears by his intonations and consonants. And Mort’s quiet authority – well, what I’m saying is that these two poets, who both come from places where “freedom” (of speech, particularly) has been a vital issue for both poets and everyone else, allowed the poems, essentially, to take over the stage and the audience.

By contrast, Jorie Graham took the stage and spoke for (I timed it) about (I didn’t realise the need to time it till three minutes in) five minutes about environmentalism, before reading a poem. She then, after announcing the poem, spoke about that for almost a minute. I wondered why she didn’t think the poems were enough to carry the weight. After all, aren’t we here because we think they can reach the parts other forms don’t reach?

Mark Doty also, in his more colloquial, disarming style, spoke a bit in advance of his poems, though no more than we’re accustomed to people doing. But this combined with his style itself to lend an air of conversation to the whole proceedings, whereas with the first two there had definitely been a sense of a SPELL being cast.

It was a shame, because I like his work, and I thought his bat poem, Pipistrelle, was very effective in its conversational, self-questioning way (having read it on the page, as well, before the day). (And a bit delightfully Merrill-esque, while we’re on the subject, though I might take up that line elsewhere.)

I thought it was interesting that both Doty and Graham “yearned” for the security of their written words on the screen behind them, which of course the other two had had. Doty’s words were, “There’s some security about the solid text.” I like that: The Solid Text. He said, with a humorous plaintiveness, “and all you get is the vibrations of my voice.” Rather like the bat in his poem, that only he could hear; in his poem he says, “Only some people can pick up its frequencies.”

But I think that’s okay. We’re about to hear a lecture this afternoon about Michael Donaghy, who wanted the poem always to speak for itself. In his workshops, if someone used an allusion and most people didn’t get it, someone would alsways start talking about “accessibility” or complaining about feeling “excluded” from it. Michael would just say, quietly:  “No, no. If one person in the room gets it, that’s enough.”

The freedom of the poem to be itself, to do the work, to carry the weight. Doty spoke in Pipistrelle of his tendency to “worry my little aerial friend / with a freight not precisely his.”

Mark, he’s a poem now! Maybe the freight is precisely his.

thoughts on London

October 25, 2008

I wander thro’ each charter’d street,
Near where the charter’d Thames does flow
And mark in every face I meet
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.

In every cry of every man,
in every Infant’s cry of fear,
In every voice, in every ban,
The mind-forg’d manacles I hear.

How the Chimney-sweeper’s cry
Every black’ning Church appals;
And the hapless Soldier’s sigh
Runs in blood down Palace walls.

But most thro’ midnight streets I hear
How the youthful Harlot’s curse
Blasts the new-born infant’s tear,
And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse.

Well, I have been grappling with William Blake’s poetry all my life. I can remember when I was about 12 or so, asking my mother to explain why he used such simple words. I guess I thought there was supposed to be this thing where the really great writers used big words, or were “hard” or had long sentences. But I read him, and I was confused: because the lines are short, the words are short, and the images are POW! What is he talking about!

Today Simon Barraclough (whose first book, Los Alamos Mon Amour, was shortlisted for this year’s Felix Dennis Forward Prize for Best First Collection) (I hope I’ve got that right) led a discussion of this highly-charged, bell-clear yet challenging poem, in the members’ bar of the Royal Festival Hall. Hats off to Poetry International for hosting such a great, low-key event. About forty people came, and all sat in a circle of about three rows, to think and talk about this poem.

Naturally, I was a little bit late. I missed the beginning and whatever the talk was of that interesting word “charter’d”. I think it is remarkable, though. I came in around the mind-forg’d manacles. We talked about the imagery, and the near-synaesthesia, of the sounds Blake hears as he wanders through London. How can you hear mind-forg’d manacles? They don’t clank like metal, forge-forg’d ones. We talked a little about the previous meanings of the word “ban” – is it like “to ban something,” is it like “wedding banns,” and did it used to mean – following on from the wedding banns – any kind of public announcement? If so, it could mean all those pamphleteers, like Daniel Defoe, with their political cries on the street-corners. Though I doubt that Defoe himself was wearing many mind-forg’d manacles.

We talked of the chimney-sweeps, and the use of the word “appals,” in an archaic sense whereby it would mean, not that the Church as a benevolent institution is appalled by child labour; but that the soot of the sweeps, who of course swept the church chimneys as well, gave the lie to and literally blackened the edifice of Christ’s teaching. And, for those of you who are born-again Millennial atheists, to what it stood for.

We talked about the hapless soldier, and how the sigh is an exhalation that becomes blood and runs down the very walls – rather like the red paint of the political slogans that did appear on buildings at that time. And we talked of Blake’s hatred of the Army and what it stood for, and the power of his word “hapless.” How this is important, because of what follows.

What follows? The youthful harlot’s curse. Simon had read these two lines as the curse, as in of the poor harlot being under one, blighting her relationship with her young infant. I had seen it, probably from my very earliest reading of it in childhood or adolescence, as being a damnation of the Harlot, as a symbol, whose curse overheard from within the family home blights even the infant within. But the discussion threw up details like the “youthful”ness of the Harlot – a condition which predisposes to sympathy – and the fact that syphilis, for example (“plagues”) has the effect of drying out the tear ducts – “blasts the new-born infant’s tear.”

And then there is this stunning last line, finishing in the Marriage hearse. Well, even allowing that “hearse” – like “ban” – may have evolved over the years, I think Blake was well aware of his meaning here. I think the word meant what it does todayk, if not also other conveyances. He is saying something huge here about the death that comes from hypocrisy, and marriage (a la Mary Wollstonecraft) being a form of prostitution under the auspices of the blacken’d, or besmirched, Church.

Members of the group saw a deal of tenderness in the imagery, as in the line “marks of weakness, marks of woe” (these are not marks of actual evil). The poem is actually about Blake’s love of the people in London, the people he sees as he walks its streets.

Let’s see. We talked about attitudes to London itself – both ours, and those of the day – and Peter Ackroyd’s identification of chimney sweeps as a “disruptive symbol” charged with iconography and myth even back then (they apparently had a sort of all-fool’s day of sweeps, when the poor bent things were allowed to stoke up on gin and run rampage with impunity, once a year. And let’s not forget how badly society needed them. They were vital.)

All this in half an hour or forty minutes!

Simon will be discussing the poem again on Monday evening at 7. It’s a marvellous opportunity, I think and it feels quite special to be sitting in this fantastic place with its views of the river – the Houses of Parliament and the London Eye jostling for window space on one side, and oh the rest of it on the other – talking about this quintessential London poem. London – we are so lucky to be able to share this city. But anybody can share Blake; that’s a form of freedom in itself, if you think about it. If you can’t be here, let me know what you think in the comments box.

I think this material barely opens the can and I’m hoping I can make it along for the second round on Monday. And tomorrow is Blake Sunday – so there’ll be lots more Blake if you’re in the area and in the mood.


October 24, 2008

You know, I forgot to do all that… and my blog name is not the same as my sidebar name! Becauase I already had a WordPress account. I’m Katy Evans-Bush, a poet and freelance writer living in London.

My first collection, Me and the Dead, was published in the summer by Salt. My blog, Baroque in Hackney, is largely about poetry but more about the condition of being a writer, or being the kind of person who is a writer, I guess: noticing things across the state of the culture and as I go about my days. I have three kids who make their appearances regularly, with a cast of supporting teenage girls.

I write reviews and essays for a number of publications, including Poetry London magazine and the Contemporary Poetry Review. (One of the first things I wrote for them – no, the first thing – was an essay on Michael Donaghy, not long after he died. I’ll be approaching Sean O’Brien’s lecture on Sunday with a careful tread and a heavy heart. As I suppose many people will.)

And that’s probably enough about that. I’ll be at the Southbank Centre for much of the weekend; if I can find some WiFi I may even get some blogging in between events. I hope to see some of you there!