No 7 - 1982
Books & Magazines Received/Recommended
John Perlman: POWERS (Kachina Press, 1632 Mamaroneck Ave., Mamaroneck N.Y.10543. USA. $3.) Nice production of good poetry. Probably better than HOMING, his last effort, and something of a departure from the style of the Elizabeth volumes he’s had.
Harry Guest: ELEGIES (Pig Press, 7 Cross View Terrace, Neville’s Cross, Durham DHl 4JY. 80p. 22pp. Good clean no-nonsense production offset from clear typescript. Very readable text and the poetry is very fine indeed. Order from NK or AH.
Carlos Drummond de Andrade (tr. Virginia Araujo) THE MINUS SIGN (Carcanet New Press, Manchester £3.95, l40pp, paperback) First British publication of Drummond, the elder statesman of Brazilian poetry, and very fine it is. Available in the States from Black Swan Press, New York.
Gil Ott: the children (Tamarisk Press, 319 S.Juniper Street, Philadelphia PA 19107, USA. No price listed. Issued as Vol 3 #3 of Tamarisk magazine. With graphics by Janice Merendino). Now this is very fine poetry indeed - quite the best of Ott that I’ve seen. Mysterious, lapidary at times (from laughter//the fortunate / the inconclusive // knives), the poems also move out on the page touching off figures in the mind with phrases, lines that are so right (all that I am stone / persisting negligence), to end in a rush of beauty : I say / the word love / knowing the word/ fails // that all parts meet / in time’s considerate structure / bare graph of lines. // You stand struggling / in our light // trees budding even in darkness / over us / to listen in their way/ what currents come // and I am the body of this movement / listening.
Ted Pearson: SOUNDINGS (Singing Horse Press, 825 Morris Road, Blue Bell, PA 19422. No price listed.) I do like these poems. They have a gentle music that I can admire, and a deftness of touch I’m jealous of : Come wind / come rain // - hardly a vocation - // apart from / fall // the leaves / withholding // do gather // against this / stillness // sounds of / a kind of // dry / anticipation. Well worth taking the trouble to write for this.
Ernst Meister (tr. Georg Gugelberger): ROOM WITHOUT WALLS - selected poems. (Red Hill Press, San Francisco $4. Dist. SPD). First book publication in English of this excellent German poet. His poems are spare, gnomic at times, meditating on death more often than not. There are vague similarities to the poems of Celan and Ausländer. 27 poems in all, with facing German texts - a useful start for the English-speaking reader. Meister deserves a much larger selection though.
Alan Halsey: PRESENT STATE (Spectacular Diseases, Peterborough, 1981. From Paul Green, 83(b) London Road, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, England. Cheques payable to Paul Green. Otherwise try AM or NK. £2.50 for the ordinary edition. Numbered & signed copies may be purchased “by arrangement with the publisher”. ) A long poem about Britain, written in a Poundian manner (but having more than a dash of Olson). Much of the Matter of Britain is here, wound round with contemporary economics - an odd mix, but no odder than Olson’s Gloucester fishermen sharing space with Sumer and Gondwanaland. The verse is pliable & strong & able to encompass these shifts. : The sword was thief/that cut God’s cloth,/ word was, to waste / and destroy, when Normans / took Israel, when Saxon./ Swole men up, they always falling / for a rising market. Part 2,the Saxon Ghost Songs seems to work the best, the shorter forms urging a compression that the rest of the book does not (& cannot) have: Edgy afraid to cross the gap / until he heard the siren./ This was the steep side Pucklechurch,/ us soaked and half / longing for the barrow./ Crowland, bright nothing./ It was whittle and watch,/ let pass and be wary./ Life and hide worth less / than a duckpond, Northmen / flying their kites over Southwark,/ didn’t give a toss for the / tollgate. Hard as rats in corn, / in corners, hard as walls./ I’d’a put order on the hundreds / for I love you but she wouldn’t. I welcome this book, & salute the author’s courage & audacity at taking on the scope of this subject. English poetry today lacks both qualities and to find it present here in such abundance is a relief. I’ve enjoyed the book and I shall enjoy it again.
Michael Bullock: LINES IN THE DARK WOOD (Third Eye Publications Inc. Box 4640, Station C, London, Ontario N5W 5L7, CANADA. 72pp. paperback. Available in the U.K. from IPD (see p.2 for address). No price listed.
A very well-produced volume of Michael Bullock’s surrealist verse-poetry. The poems are a lot closer to conventional poetry than most traditional surrealist works, despite their often startling imagery. Too often surrealist poems pursue a kind of organic growth, with one image giving the idea for another & so on ad infinitum, becoming only a welter of words and impressions. Bullock lets his poems out into the real world with a pleasantly romantic air (You return through water / alright on a pyre of wings /…../ Your fluttering hands / enfold the leaping tree. (Your Name)), with a nod to surrealist conventions of the savage image (Her flight is a black wound / in the whiteness of the air. Or: But the pale sun / dangling in the branches / is the face of a hanged man / his hair rustles among the leaves. (Black Swan & Lines in the Dark Wood)). Each of the poems comes to its own well-rounded conclusion, ending invariably with a powerful or evocative image that tantalisingly lets the reader know the poem is concluded, but frequently hovers beyond the edge of sense, taking refuge in the sensory and the imagination, as in Autumn Garden : The still green grass / remembers vanished feet. This book is more unified in mood and style than its predecessor Black Wings White Dead (Fiddlehead, New Brunswick 1978), which had a good number of fabulist poems of the kind one usually expects from American post-surrealists like Simic. I’m not sure at the moment whether to be pleased at the unity of the book or to be sad that the full range of Bullock’s work (in particular, the prose poems) is not present. However, while I have the odd quibble (& this is a long-standing quibble of mine with Surrealism) about such flat phrases as Death is a dark lady / in a long black dress (Death), the very next poem (Serena in Paris) leaps up with the splendid My friend Serena / is walking on the sky over Paris / her hair pointing at the roofs. All in all LINES IN THE DARK WOOD is a very readable variation on my normal poetry diet. This kind of verse seems to be unfashionable these days in England, which is a pity, for it’s much more worth the reader’s time and money than the po-faced memories of adolescence & deceased relatives that seem to pass for poetry there these days. It’s Canada’s gain.
Gael Turnbull: RAIN IN WALES & other jests & ballads. (Satis, 14 Greenhill Place, Edinburgh 10, Scotland. £0.75 16pp. Available from the publisher or from Alan Halsey.
A small volume of Turnbull’s lighter pieces, as the title suggests - although the somewhat weightier YOU & I from Shearsman 5 is included. The poems are mainly performance pieces, and intended for the atmosphere of a pub-reading (all at the Nag’s and the Somer’s), where words can easily get lost amongst the glasses and beer-slops. For those who only know the early work of G.T., this is liable to be a shock, but it’s important to realise that, here, the poet is having some fun - and no doubt his audience did/will too.
DAVID CHALONER: HOTEL ZINCO (Grosseteste, 6 Henconner Crescent, LEEDS, Yorkshire LS7 3NS, England. 71pp. £3.50 paperback)
Welcome back, Grosseteste ! The Review may be dead, or in limbo, but the press - apparently - lives on. This is Chaloner’s first full-length collection since CHOCOLATE SAUCE (Ferry Press 1973), which I greatly enjoyed. HOTEL ZINGO arrived only a short time before this issue went to press, so my observations are necessarily restricted to immediate impressions. (1)This is beautifully produced & the price is ok, considering I paid the same for 48pp of ill-printed claptrap from OUP recently, by an author best left unnamed. (2) The poetry is fine; an advance from C.S., a maturing voice. (3) The diction tends to be a little flat, in much the same way as Ashbery’s, but like Ashbery it is also abstract &/or unusual (You press the text of your hands/ onto the indian air, the signs are altered/and the purpose of the hour retreats.) (4) The poems have things to say - &, come to think of it, I haven’t read much recently that did say anything other than itself. Buy it. Go to Alan Halsey or Nick Kimberley for copies.
LEE HARWOOD & JUDITH WALKER: ALL THE WRONG NOTES (Pig Press, 7 Cross View Terrace, Neville’s Cross, Durham DH1 4JY, England. 49pp. Pbk. £2.90. Order from NK or AH.
This is Harwood’s first book since BOSTON-BRIGHTON, which I thought strayed into inconsequentiality. I’m pleased to say that this new volume signals a return to the qualities of the earlier Fulcrum books (THE WHITE ROOM for instance). Most are prose poems that show some surrealist influence. I’m delighted to welcome back a fine poet whom I thought was lost. The photographs by Judith Walker range from the trite to the interesting, with some instances of unsure composition. But, all in all, they add to the book.
ROY FISHER: CONSOLIDATED COMEDIES (Pig Press - address above - l4pp. £.00
The Collected lighter poems of Roy Fisher. Comments re Gael Turnbull’s collection apply here too. And why shouldn’t he write “comedies” as well ? They don’t belong in POEMS 1955-1980 of course, but they make a fun collection here. The Dream is very funny indeed; One World could almost be lifted from the pages of TLS (!): When I last saw them, they were eleven,/born on a council estate/halfway to the next town,/sold into the lowest stream/at five or so:you can recognise /a century of Brummagem eugenics/in a child. Irreversible is the most recent and shows he still has a puckish humour; Just Where to Draw the Line is excellent, a passing thought on the idiocies of one particular critical comment, splendidly caught. As ever, the careless criticism cannot survive the putdown.
Both of these Pigs are typeset by the way, rather than type-written, as Pigs were previously. An upmarket Pig ?
OASIS #31, ed. Ian Robinson. Available from IPD, 12 Stevenage Road, London SW6 6ES, England. @ 80p per copy. 64pp. Oasis returns, after a long abscence, in a new guise - as a kind of irregular organ of the Oasis Books press. News of the press, excerpts from forthcoming books, etc. No submissions & no subscriptions are accepted. Individual copies may be ordered as described above. Good contents: Gunnar Harding (tr, Fulton); Martin Anderson, John Welch, Nathaniel Tarn, plus a brief interview with John Ash.
MODERN POETRY IN TRANSLATION (MPT) #43. ed Daniel Weissbort. £2/$4 from IPD. Subs £6/$l4 for 4 issues to 46A Woodside Park Road, London N12 8RP, England. Interesting as ever: poems by Vasko Popa, Helga Novak, Marcel Béalu (tr. Michael Bullock) plus others from Russia, Israel, Hungary, Italy. Also an edited version of Tyler’s Essay on the Principles of Translation (1790), and an essay by Adam Czerniawski.
IRON #34 ed Peter Mortimer. 70p/subs £2.80 for 4 issues from 5 Marden Terrace, Cullercoats, North Shields, Tyne & Wear NE3O0 4PD, U.K. $10 in the US. 44 large-format pages, excellent production quality. A magazine with a strong local base, lively, if a little unadventurous, and one which will last. Good graphics in particular make it stand out from the crowd.
REALITY STUDIOS Vol.3 #3/4 ed. Ken Edwards, 75 Balfour Street, LONDON SE17. Subs: at the moment £2 p.a. (4 issues), but due to increase. This issue is mostly criticism (David Miller on Clive Faust & Philip Jenkins, Paul Green on Alan Halsey, Eric Mottram on Gil Sorrentino’s fiction, plus a couple of ludicrous letters from Jeff Nuttall. An intelligent, combative journal that pursues serious assessment of the more radical forms of literature. The one primary text is by Kris Hemensley, which I found rather unreadable.
GARGOYLE #17/18 ed Rick Peabody, PO Box 57206, Washington D.C. 20037, USA. Triannual magazine, Subs $6 p.a. Enormous (l00pp), twin columns. Reviews in triple columns. Most of the contributors are unknown to me, but G. is an energetic magazine with wide open frontiers. Interviews with Deidra Baldwin, T. Coraghessan Boyle, Kenneth Gangemi. et al, plus 30pp of (good) reviewing, good graphics, photos. Poetry variable. Well worth subscribing to.
WAVES Vol 9 No. 3 (Ed Bernice Lever, 79 Denham Drive, Thornhill Ontario L4J 1P2, Canada. C$2/C$6p.a. Triannual. Somehow the notice of this issue got dropped from #5, & then from #6. Better late than never. Excellent prose from W.P.Kinsella, and readable prose by David Watmough, Penny Kemp, Randall Silvis. Good, easy poetry by Robin Skelton, Dorothy Livesay. Critical section v. interesting, especially for a non-Canadian. It convinced me I should buy Dudek’s Collected Poems and Kent Thompson’s Shacking Up., which is what criticism should he doing. This issue hangs together well, and is very readable. If it doesn’t challenge too much, well, it isn’t necessary for all lit-mags to be challenging.
LONGHOUSE, Autumn 1981. ed Bob Arnold, Green River, Brattleboro, Vermont 05031 USA. Sub by donation. Latest of the hardy longhouse annuals. Many faces familiar from Shearsman: Martin Anderson, George Evans, John Levy, Michael Tarachow, Stephen Lewandowski, & me. Others to look out for include Mei-mei Bersenbrugge & John Tagliabue.
WAVES Vol 10 No. 3 (details, see above). Not as good as 9/3, but still worth getting hold of.
ANTAEUS 44, ed. Daniel Halpern, Ecco Press, l8West 30th Street, New York N.Y. 10001, USA. 200pp. $4. Subs $14 p.a. for 4 issues.
A real good’un. Previously-unpublished translations by Pound of Arnaut Daniel, Cavalcanti, Petrarch, Rudel, with an intro by James Laughlin. Unpublished poems by H.D.; Montale on Pound & Auden; fiction by William Trevor, R.K.Narayan, Hesse, Janet Kauffman; poetry by William Stafford, Carlos Drummond de Andrade, May Swenson, Stephen Spender (plus some real dogs like Frederick Seidel). Drawings by S.P.Walker, plus interesting texts/essays by Paul Bowles & Nicholas Delbanco. Best issue in a couple of years.
KUDOS 9, ed Graham Sykes, 78 Easterly Road, Leeds LS8 3AN, West Yorkshire, England. 75p (add 15p for p & p in the U.K.), or £2.25 p.a. post free in the U.K./ £2.50, $6 post free overseas. 3 issues per year. 56pp.
Solid issue, as usual presenting a mix of mainly little-known writers with a few names known from the small-press circuit (here: Markham, Hulse, Goumas, Kazantsis, Steve Walker). There are a couple of translations (Trakl & Pacheco), and some very good reviews by Philip Crick, Paul Ravenscroft, Nigel Lowry. If I may be allowed to quibble on a point of editorial policy, I would prefer to see more poems by each poet. A single six- or ten-liner doesn’t hit the reader as hard as a collection of them. I suppose that might reduce the number of poets to an unacceptable level, though. Good cover.
AGNEAU 2, Anthony Barnett’s new imprint, (successor to Nothing Doing & The Literary Supplement, & contemporaneous with Lamb) has announced the publication in May 1982 of POEMS by J.H.Prynne, at £12/$24 cloth, £7.50/$15 paper-book. Order from Nick Kimberley in the U.K. and SPD in the USA. Not quite a collected edition (it excludes the early Routledge volume) it does however contain all of the books from 1968 to 1979, thus bringing back some of those very elusive volumes such as BRASS and THE WHITE STONES.
Other good news is that Anvil Press of London are to do a collection of Gael Turnbull’s work, under the title A GATHERING OF POEMS 1950-1980. It should hopefully appear at the end of this year or the beginning of next.
AH - Alan Halsey, 22 Broad Street, Hay-on-Wye, via Hereford HR3 5DB, England.
BS - Bookslinger, PO Box 16251, 2163 Ford Parkway, St.Paul, Minnesota 55116 USA.
GD - Gnomon Distribution, PO Box 106, Frankfort, Kentucky 40602, USA.
IPD - Independent Press Distribution, 12 Stevenage Road, London SW6 6ES, UK.
NK - Nick Kimberley, ‘Duck Soup’, 11 Lambs Conduit Passage, Holborn, London WC1, England.
NYSSPA - New York State Small Press Association, PO Box 1264, Radio City Station, New York, N.Y. 10019, USA.
SPD - Small Press Distribution Inc., 1784 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, California 94709, USA.
- 10th Muse
- Angel Exhaust
- Blithe Spirit
- Brando's hat
- Brittle Star
- Cannon's Mouth, The
- Coffee House, The
- Dream Catcher
- Floating Bear, The
- French Literary Review, The
- Frogmore Papers, The
- Global Tapestry
- Grosseteste Review
- Homeless Diamonds
- Interpreter's House, The
- Journal, The
- Lamport Court
- London Magazine, The
- Modern Poetry in Translation
- Monkey Kettle
- Neon Highway
- New Welsh Review
- North, The
- Obsessed with pipework
- Oxford Poetry
- Painted, spoken
- Paper, The
- Pen Pusher Magazine
- Poetry Cornwall
- Poetry London
- Poetry London (1951)
- Poetry Nation
- Poetry Review, The
- Poetry Salzburg Review
- Poetry Scotland
- Poetry Wales
- Private Tutor
- Purple Patch
- Rain Dog
- Reach Poetry
- Review, The
- Rialto, The
- Second Aeon
- Seventh Quarry, The
- Smiths Knoll
- Strange Faeces
- Tabla Book of New Verse, The
- Tolling Elves
- Ugly Tree, The
- Wolf, The
- Yellow Crane, The