Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Frederick the Great’s Christmas Preparation

                                         Advent Offensive
Obtain two large rubber boots (preferably same footed for inconvenience to the lower orders. See later.) Nota Bene: not Wellingtons. Procure one quart of rough brandy, if possible from under a Spaniard’s nose at breakfast, a magnum of any Grand Cru champagne, the more expensive the better, and two bottles of alleged cooking sherry from Happy Saturdays off-licence, 95 Al-Filreis Road, Sneinton, Nottingham, near Sherwood Forest, England. Admire the social disjunctions.
                                            Sankt Stockade
Avoid agitated Spaniard. Prepare one cup of your finest, favourite, darkest, ground coffee. Allow to drip meditatively. Scan any possible horizons for passing galleons, map-makers or magi. Compose tome on the socio-economic obsolescence of shepherds. Exchange a nod avec Voltaire.
                                            Herbst Enfilade
Take one large jar of German mustard (obtainable from any local hardware store or chemists). Paste throughout boots, liberally. Pour in coffee, brandy, sherry and champagne, in that precise order, order is all, ‘s exact precise price, dusting in between with hog hair and sawdust.
                                           Winter Garrison
Impress Swabian peasant. March impressed peasant around parade-ground square for two months in full battle-gear. O my bombardier. Exact price order. Be proclaimed among remote provinces. Hunch above maps and dialects. Stalk the borders of irreverent detail and rumbunctious gazetteers. Deny the allegations of unnatural stars. Recite the Odes of Anachronism. Upend Swabian and strain out winter warmer. Waes thu hael.

(Frederick the Great was apparently fond of adding champagne and mustard to his coffee. I have altered the recipe, as well as other facts, somewhat.)

Wednesday, 10 November 2010


From Michael Nyman's Six Celan Songs. Ute Lemper does the vocals:

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Pound meets Celan

This was prompted by a thread on the British and Irish Innovative Poetry discussion list in which Pierre Joris pointed out the exact words of the famous 'all poets are Jews' quote (from Mandelstam, from Tsevetsaya, from Celan). It made Ezra Pound in his Pisan cage loom overhead: 

Raised, to the head-heights

by the crossed night-lights

in a voice-mesh
Pound shouting pounds
vse poety zhidy

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Reasons Against It

for the ‘poetry community’

1) Poetry corrupts language.

2) A typical poet is a mentally incurious, unimaginative, status-and-gossip obsessed phrase-stealing dedicated imitator of fashion.

3) Despite evidence and assertions to the contrary, most poets are the cringing creatures of the status quo.

4) The music of poetry is tone-deaf. And cheap perfume.

5) It raises hopes. Then thwarts them.

6) It rhymes. Often, and in public.

7) Its comparatively few sincere practitioners are condemned to a lifetime of anguish at the reality of their unfortunate election of art.

8) It drove me to drink.

9) Metaphor is a method of stealing food.

10) Longfellow was a poet

11) Like religions, and politicians, it feeds on the suggestible.

12) This is a poem.

13) It is a conversation with no-one.

Thursday, 10 June 2010



Despite the denials of official organs, Wales participated in the great blossoming of poetic culture of those decades between the end of the primary Cold War and the dawn of the New Right, and this unofficial English literary magazine is offering a large-scale celebration of the achievements of Welsh poets whose optimism captured them. The fall of monoliths spills daylight onto the missing half of the picture. The most interesting anglophone Welsh literature of the past century has been in the innovative vein.

A mixture of poetry, essays, memoirs, and interviews recreates a literary era in depth.

Poets featured are: John James, David Barnett, Paul Evans, Iain Sinclair, Zoƫ Skoulding, Ralph Hawkins, Peter Finch, David Greenslade, John Goodby, Nic Laight, Nick Macias, Niall Quinn, Philip Jenkins, Graham Hartill, Lynette Roberts, Chris Ozzard, Rhys Trimble, John Powell Ward. We touch on the history of innovative writing in Welsh and even turn up two avant garde texts in Welsh. An analytical essay (drawing on work only available in Welsh) uncovers the use of Welsh patterns of consonantal echoing in the English experimental tradition. An ample poetry anthology includes mainly unpublished poetry but also recovers texts from as far back as the seventies, defying forgetfulness.

Living witnesses told us strange tales. Recovery of original texts from archives and deposits has brought a disintegration of the intellectual legacy. Salvaged from among the debris of Christian, nationalist, and communalist ideologies, we shake clear a brilliant line of liberated and imaginative writing. Set up in order to fill a gap, the project has uncovered a whole gulf, a submerged realm of sophisticated intellectual exploration. Awed, we recover the traces of the classic Welsh magazine 2nd Aeon between 1966 and 1975. That is truly why each aeon is free after the first one.

£7. 170 pp. publication date 4 June 2010. available from: 21 Querneby Road, Nottingham, NG3 5JA. cheques payable to 'Andrew Duncan' please.

edited by Goodby and Duncan.

This is a follow-up to the celebrated 'Colonies of Belief', the special issue on the Irish avant-garde, edited by Scully and Goodby.

so much of this movement

is really human

the gentlemen of the

orchestra beckon us on

a blood stain

appears on my left eye

we follow a sinewy pavan

slowly and

lacking arms we will allow ourselves

to fall over the edge

of the known world

(Philip Jenkins, 'La Patinoire')

Wednesday, 9 June 2010


      after Basho

An old puddle, shallow;

a frog flops off its spot. Yay.



Chizzit : an inhabitant of Leicester, as in 'how much izzit? Reputed to be a coinage  of the shopkeepers of Skegness.  This is one of a number of versions of the famous Basho haiku I've done on my decidedly unvenomous views of my adopted hometown.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Gigging all Over the World

There's an evangelical church near me: it gets more or less a full house every service. People come from across the country to attend it. Its hymns are God-awful, pun intended, Christian Rock disasters (it's an index of the mental ruin the place induces that the performers are often quite capable musicians) its liturgy a shambling street-corner mugging of language, its sermons an unrefined form of moral bullying interspersed with lame gags, its populism a front that disguises a deeply right-wing agenda.

Reminds me of some peformance poetry venues I've been to.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

from Clegglet, Prince of No-Mark

To join, or not to join: that is the question:
Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The twists and turns of Mandelson and Gordon
Or to take arms in a dark deal with Cam’ron
And while opposing back him? To lose: to win:
To choose, and by a pact to say we end
The few score seats and by-election shocks
Our party’s heir to: ‘tis a consumation
Devoutly to be missed.

Friday, 30 April 2010

Ejecta Membra

Poet defeats Prelate at Beards: Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williamson came a modest second to ArchPoet Geoffrey Hill at a recent Game of Beards at Keble College.


While Martin Dolan has supplied this wonderful link:  


which truly made my teatime.


Etruscan carts had metal-rimmed wheels four foot and eight and a half inches apart.


 I was asked whether I had watched last night's (the third and final) televised election debate and about the use of 'nowt', subjects that seem intimately if subterraneanly related:

I was too busy bathing my feet after a visit to Eastwood to attend to the debates. In case that first sentence causes puzzlement, not that would ever be my intent, no, I haven't joined a strange cult which indulges in rites of pedicure after entering the shrine (of D.H.Lawrence) but rather I was suffering from the after effects of following around the winding pilgrim trails of the nearby and vast Ikea store where someone was in search of curtain rings.
I was, though, able to get a copy of a volume containing Lawrence's short story 'Delilah and Mr Bircumshaw', which I haven't set eyes on in almost 40 years, from Eastwood's Public  Library. I like visiting those old colliery villages round there : people's eyes light up when they hear my surname, as with the librarian today: 'I used to know an old gentleman with that name'.
People in much of the North Midlands used to say variants of 'nowt' too, 'naht' and the like. Although a relic, it still happens sometimes in speech, language being a haunted house par excellence. And, despite the dull accounts of linguists, people, being actors, instinctive mimics like most primates, will use inflections other than their own.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

A Modeft Propofal

I consider it would be a fine thing, a truly experimental and innovative thing, if there were a moratorium on the publication of new poetry for, say, five years. Or even just twelve months for a test run. By publication I mean anything in print, the internet OR read in public. The question of private circulation would require some careful deliberation and refinement of definition: there are always going to be those who have compulsions to share their latest with their cat, or house-plants, or mother. Although this would probably have to be a voluntary arrangement it would be exciting if official support could be won and transgression of the discipline of silence could incur a suitable sanction, such as enforced indexing of European Community Food Policy Directives or public dismemberment joint by joint in an art exhibition (while being maintained alive for the longest possible period to endure the even more excruciating pain of the other installations).

The benefits of this temporary trappisme of poetry would be immense: all those counterfeit versifiers who exist solely to torture their audiences through the amplification system of egotism would evanesce and vanish quite, absolutely and utterly, imagine the global deflation of wind-bags that would ensue, we could probably supply the energy needs of the Third World with the hot air saved, while, as there would be no strictures against re-publication, we would have ample opportunity to assemble retrospectives and collected works, reputations could be thoughtfully and fastidiously interrogated, perhaps people would begin to remember how to read, other than if scanning a newspaper, and most of all there would be restoration of poets to what should be their true proving ground: the blank solitude of the page.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Football long after Picasso

On Jerome Rothenberg's wondrous blog, 'Poems and Poetics', at http://poemsandpoetics.blogspot.com/, for Sunday, January 24th, 2010, to be savoured, to be treasured even with grubby fingers is Akira Tatehata: Seven Poems, with a note in praise of  (translated from Japanese by Hiroaki Sato) .
Even in translation, even in prose, it is that rare shock of authentic poetry, coming from the sidelines in this age of ersatz.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Sol, companion of El.

Unlike most of the stars in the galaxy, our sun is a solitary, as alone as the unnameable El became, after he subduced himself from the Babylonian pantheonUntil now...

...it is reckoned that Sol's lost siblings should have remained on a similar circular orbit about the galaxy and, although the birth cluster dissippated about 4.6 billion years ago, with the launch of GAIA in 2012 it should be possible to identify 10 to 60 of such stars and thereby isolate details of solitary Sol's birthplace, its whereabouts and size:

"in a March 2009, draft pre-print, a computational astrophysicist argued that the chemical abundances found in the Solar System and the observed structure of the Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt constrain the initial mass and radius of Sol's star cluster of birth to between 500 and 3,000 Solar-masses (distributed among an estimated 1,500 to 3,500 stars) within a radius of 5 light-years (1.5 parsecs). Although the cluster dissolved over the past 4.6 billion years with the dispersal of the Sun's sibling stars into the surrounding the Milky Way, the stars should have remained on a similar orbit around the galactic center. While Sol's siblings now lie hidden among many millions of stars, 10 to 60 such stars should still be orbiting the galactic core within a distance of 300 light-years (100 parsecs). With the launch of the European Space Agency's GAIA astrometry mission now scheduled for 2012 (to gather positional and radial velocity measurements for a billion stars within five years and create a 3-dimensional galactic chart of the Milky Way), these sibling stars can be identified with accurate measurements of their level of heavy elements as well as positions and velocities of their motion within the galaxy, and the discovery of even a few such siblings should strongly constrain the original size and location of Sol's birth cluster (Simon P. Portegies Zwart, Scientific American, November 2009, pp. 40-47; and Simon P. Portegies Zwart, 2009). "


Tuesday, 5 January 2010

The Dalkey Archive

The Dalkey Archive (Harper Perennial Modern Classics) The Dalkey Archive by Flann O'Brien

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

O'Brien, but possibly not De Selby, would appreciate how I came to re-read this: I was in a pound shop, as we call them in Britain, when among the batteries that exhaust in a day and the year-old crisps, I beheld, I think that's the right verb for the occasion, a whole row of this book, without companions.

I had to buy one, even if it cost me a quid.

In the name of A Bash in the Tunnel and the Third Policeman


View all my reviews >>

Monday, 4 January 2010

Black Annis

From First Flights (pub. posthumously 1797) by John Heyrick Jnr

(this curiosity is generally credited with putting flesh on the bones of the Leicester legend of Black Annis, although some believe it has much older roots. The author was a Lieutenant in the dragoons and his book of mainly occasional verses was published just at the time of his early death.  He was of the same family as the 17th century poets Robert Herrick and Thomas Heyrick. Many of the author's poems are addressed to young ladies, although mainly slightly older ones than the diminutive putative enquirer who occasioned this.)


(being an answer to a very young lady's enquiries about the story of Black Annis)

Where down the plain the winding pathway falls,

From Glenn-field vill, to Lester's anceint walls,

Nature, or Art, with imitative power,

Far in the Glenn has plac'd Black Annis' Bower.

An oak, the pride of all the mossy dell,

Spreads his broad arms above the stony cell;

And many a bush, with hostile thorns array'd,

Forbids the secret cavern to invade;

Whilst delving vales each way meander round,

And violet banks with redolence abound.

Here, if the uncouth song of former days,

Soil not the page with Falsehood's artful lays,

Black Annis held her solitary reign,

The dread and wonder of the neighb'ring plain.

The Shepherd griev'd to view his waning flock,

And trac'd the fistlings to the gloomy rock.

No vagrant children cull'd the flowerets then,

For infant blood oft stain'd the gory den.

Not Sparta Mount* for infant tears renown'd,

Echo'd more frequently the piteous sound.

Oft the gaunt Maid the frantic Mother curs'd,

Whom Britan's wolf with savage nipple nurs'd;

Whilst Lester's sons behld aghast the scene,

Nor dar'd to meet the Monster of the Green.

'Tis said the soul of mortal man recoil'd

To view Black Annis' eye, so fierce and wild;

Vast talons, foul with human flesh, there grew

In place of hands, and features livid blue

Glar'd in her visage; whilst her obscene waist,

Warm skins of human victims close embrac'd.

But Time, than Man more certain, tho' more slow,

At length 'gainst Annis drew his sable bow;

The great decree the pious Shepherds bless'd,

And general joy the general fear confess'd.

Not without terror they the cave survey,

Where hung the monstrous trophies of her sway:

'Tis said, that in the rock large rooms were found,

Scoop'd with her claws beneath the flinty ground;

In these the swains her hated body threw,

But left the entrance still to future view,

That the children's children might the tale rehearse,

And bards record it in their tuneful verse.

But in these listless days, the idle bard

Gives to the wind all themes of cold regard;

Forgive, then, if in rough, unpolished song,

An unskilled swain the dying tale prolong.

And you, ye Fair, whom Nature's scenes delight,

If Annis' Bower your vagrant steps invite,

Ere the bright sun Aurora's car suceed,

Or dewy evening quench the thirsty mead,

Forbear with chilling censures to refuse

Some gen'rous tribute to the rustic muse.

A violet or common daisy throw,

Such gifts as Maro's lovely nymphs bestow;

Then shall your Bard survive the critic's frown,

And in your smiles enjoy his best renown.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

A Given Oracle

On Hexagram 40 (from Chris Lofting's I Ching plus:

40 Deliverance Relaxed Structuring
Within a context of containment we utilise (sudden) awareness.

"HSIEH : loosen, disjoin, untie, sever, scatter; analyse, explain, understand; release, dispel sorrow; eliminate effects, solve problems; resolution, deliverance. The ideogram: horns and knife, cutting into forward thrust." ERANOS p444

Image :
"[With containment comes awareness] : Deliverance. One generously responds to forgiving wrongdoing."

Class: Integrating

Commentary :
Cooperative Format : In hexagram 40 we have the explicit form of release from tension; the loosening of structure. The first flash of lightning and crack of thunder signalling the break of a storm. In the image, from a position of security one is able to forgive generously, and thus reduce tension. This is an explicit act of tension release, compared to the hexagram's complement, hexagram 37 The Family, where the implicit nature of the structured environment is relaxing; here it is the release of structure that works. Contextually, from a position 180 degrees apart, we develop through compromise and thus deliverance - the relaxing of structure. Hexagram 40 is the general expression of that described by hexagram 09 where the emphasis is on making small gains to succeed, thus the accumulation acts to reduce tension. In 40 the accumulation is 'in the air'.

Oppositional Format : Hexagram 40 manifests thunder against constraint.

Structural Relationship (Being) : Hexagram 40 is the opposite of hexagram 37. Both hexagrams deal with tension release but 40 covers the release through relaxing of structure, whereas 37 deals with tension release through maintaining of rigid structure.

Temporal Relationship (Doing) : The Goal of 40 is hexagram 51 (or 'how do I 51? - 40' How do I enlighten, become more aware? Sudden release of tensions)

Five-Phase Relationships : The trigram of Water reflects Consumption. The trigram of Thunder reflects raw Production. Consumption (containment aspect) expressed through 'sudden' production is expressed as a sudden relaxation of tension.

40 is the goal of 54 (or 'how do I 40? - 54 - How do I release tensions? high, intense output of energy)

Extended Commentary
Referring to the Quality Matrix below, the raw context from which hexagram 40 derives is described by analogy with hexagram 64, a general sense of remaining or becoming 'open', avoiding closure. Once within hexagram 40, base level is described by analogy with the general nature of hexagram 38, (avoiding) Oppositions, in that hexagram 38 is linked to the bottom line of hexagram 40 and expresses the general focus on tension reduction. The development path of qualitative expression works up through the lines of hexagram 40 where at line 5 it is best expressed by analogy to hexagram 06, Compromising, where the intent of the development is to reduce tensions through compromise. This tension reduction through relaxation'' need is finally transformed at the peak of the hexagram, line 6, into the expression of relaxation of structure to allow for flexibility.