Greetings, townspeople. How are the disasters going? It looks as if our friend Bruce Wayne is getting a bit fretful after a week of enforced inactivity, while other people rejoice amid the festivities of their families; but tomorrow is New Year’s Eve, and some villain is sure to strike. At last he will once again have a purpose in life, defeating evil and making the world safe for ordinary folk everywhere.
This has been a quiet week in Baroque Mansions. Well – it was punctuated by another severe glaucoma episode, necessitating yet another trip to Moorfields, whither I must return next Thursday, and an additional prescription – for the same filthy muck they give you for altitude sickness. Bizarrely, the side effects are a bit like altitude sickness, but without the risk of sudden blindness thank God. (That would just be ironic, in the Alanis Morissette sense, and nobody wants that.)
I think the episode was partly brought on by spending a day or two bent over some close knitting. In the three weeks up to that day, I knitted: three snoods, one scarf, a hat (which didn’t turn out and had to be scrapped), a guitar strap, two headbands, and a tea cosy that looks like it came from Skandium (£1 sale bin). Most of it was fine but for the guitar strap and the tea cosy I used linen stitch, which you sort of have to keep looking at. (I suppose if I really did go blind I’d have to learn to do it without looking…)
There was some trouble with the decreases, so never mind that bit. And nb, the teapot it is destined to make cosy has a different shape from mine, with less horizontal action, so it will sit better. It’s going to a Temple of Midcentury Modern, where I think it will fit in.
In serious news, the holiday began with a sad and shocking poetry world death: that of Dennis O’Driscoll, on Christmas Eve. I didn’t know him and didn’t know his work well enough. I knew I didn’t know his work well enough, but that’s it. I loved what I had read. read George Szirtes’ post, and this poem, which seems to address almost directly the current conundrum so many of us are facing:
It’s in three sections, so click through. The third is stupendous. Sublime and merciless.
It’s like my previous post on the Christmas story, I suppose: it comes in the middle of real life, with awful things happening all around. We wrest it out of the muck of death and disaster. Dennis O’Driscoll was only 58, and really one of the good guys: it’s terrible news.
I’ve been reading William Letford’s Bevel. Also looking at Gillian Clarke’s gorgeous Ice, Simon Armitage’s Death of King Arthur, and other shortlisted TS Eliot Prize volumes in advance of my workshop on the 12th (there are some spaces free so do get in touch if you’re interested).
Incidentally, I was obsessed with King Arthur in my teens – really obsessed, I used to order scholarly books by historians of the Dark Ages, and I read the Chronicles. Armitage’s Introduction is a good roundup of the subject, the hazy shadowiness of it, the various permutations and national importances of it, and also that the truth of the story resides, not in the presense or not of historical artefacts, but in the fact that Arthur has never gone away. And it’s based on the Alliterative Morte D’Arthur, not Sir Thomas Malory. I do teach the alliterative line in my technique course and it really opens a few eyes – what a different way to think of words and wordplay – to use the first, not the last letter, and totally ignore the existence of rhyme (even as something to avoid). Also the stresses.
Aside from that, there are some readings coming up – not least the TS Eliot Prize one on the day after my workshop. On the 3rd, I go back to Moorfields, probably to be told I’ll have to have cataract surgery within a week or two.
And in the middle of that, I now have a confirmed venue for a workshop group, on alternate Monday nights, in the room above the Poetry Café. The first class is on Monday Jan 21st. Drop me an email or leave a comment if you’d like to join and I’ll send you the info.
And so life goes on, and creaks and groans, and ends, and the world is a mess, but tomorrow is the last day of this benighted year. Maybe I’ll write the highlights of it…