A short round-up of books and poets. Not lengthy.

Another week begins. Here’s the roundup and how it affects YOU.

1. I was overjoyed, on Saturday, finally to make it into my favourite bookshop, which I’d never even been in before! Not physically anyway. But because the Bookseller Crow is just as prominent on the social media circuit as he is in Crystal Palace, and because he runs such a very excellent bookshop blog, it didn’t really feel like the first time. The shop does feel very like the blog, too: crammed with books and an air of good things happening. It gave me a cosy glow to arrive in a place for the first time and have a chat with the very jolly proprietor about a friend who had been in that morning. AND he had the books I wanted! I shall carry my Bookseller Crow bag with pride. All you lot in South London, hoist your butts over to SE19.

2. I bought The Anthologist, by Nicholson Baker. I normally wouldn’t, you know… he annoyed me with U and I, for some reason. Or no, there was a really sexist one after that, I can’t remember. Right? But this one’s about a minor poet with writer’s block, trying to write the introduction to an anthology. He’s a failure and his girlfriend’s left him, of course. Put it that way, maybe not so funny. But I opened it at random to the sentence: “I have to warn you, though: there is a most painful enjambment in Ozymandias.” There’s another: “Portsmouth is a poetry town.” Mine’s a little bashed up already, because I read it until I fell asleep and it fell off the bed. Well, a girl’s got to have some excitement.

3. I’m currently hosting, by very kind invitation, a discussion about Michael Donaghy on the American formalist website, Eratosphere. Michael, despite his adherence to the idea of form as something the poet must negotiate with to achieve the poem, was not a New Formalist in that sense, and his definition of the word “form” was in any case as fluid as the real (as opposed to the quasi-political poetry) definition of the word. Anyway, it’s a great chance to revisit his poetry and ideas. I was reading his poems all last week and found myself getting as excited as I was when I first discovered them, back in the 90s. There’s a slight piousness of grief built up (& I’ve felt it in myself, too, a sentimentality) which actually does the poetry no favours. I’m trying to conduct the conversation in the spirit of this surprise that his work engenders – because it’s still unlike anyone else’s – and I’d be delighted if anyone wants to come join in. You have to sign up with a username etc, but the chat goes on till the 20th, so you have time.

There are some wonderful links getting linked, things most people probably don’t know about. Here’s one, to whet your interest – but be warned, it’s a filmed interview, so it’s a bit of a shock to see him talking… Lovely, though. And there’s a slight problem in that I was hoping to encourage people, especially in America, to buy the books and read along, but it seems the Collected poetry and prose – both published a year ago – are out of print?!? Go figure. $50 was the cheapest I found! But you can still get the individual collections.

4. After lengthy* negotiations with the estate, the Poetry Archive has just put some work by WH Auden on its website. You can hear him reading, as well as read some poems. And here’s one that seems particularly prescient…

The Fall of Rome

The piers are pummelled by the waves;
In a lonely field the rain
Lashes an abandoned train
Outlaws fill the mountain caves.

Fantastic grow the evening gowns.
Agents of the Fisc pursue
Absconding tax defaulters through
The sewers of provincial towns.

Read the rest. Wonderful.

* Ahem.


Dr Johnson hated this word.
He said it was redundant as it just means the same
as a perfectly good word we already have, which is “long.”
But he was wrong.

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