Poetry

Forecast-elizabeth-bishop-542x400

A dear friend sent me some thoughts on poetry. See below for a badly edited version of what he advised I look up. I thought I’d share:

A list, mainly related to avant-garde poetry, much of it coming out of the Cambridge scene, under the influence of the great J. H. Prynne:

http://www.barquepress.com/index.php”

Other poets to look up: Peter Reading, Mick Imlah, W. S. Graham, Charles Boyle, Oliver Reynolds, Richard Price, Elizabeth Bishop, Philip Larkin, Louis MacNeice, Tennyson and Browning.

If you’re not familiar with them, I urge you to look them up, for technique’s sake if nothing else. There is no poetry without technique

This is a link to Read Me Something You Love, where Alexander MacLeod reads some Elizabeth Bishop. A great poem, a good podcast.

In Worcester, Massachusetts,I went with Aunt Consueloto keep her dentist's appointmentand sat and waited for herin the dentist's waiting room.It was winter. It got darkearly. The waiting roomwas full of grown-up people,arctics and overcoats,lamps and magazines.My aunt was insidewhat seemed like a long timeand while I waited I readthe National Geographic (I could read) and carefully studied the photographs:the inside of a volcano,black, and full of ashes;then it was spilling overin rivulets of fire.Osa and Martin Johnson dressed in riding breeches,laced boots, and pith helmets.A dead man slung on a pole--"Long Pig," the caption said.Babies with pointed headswound round and round with string;black, naked women with neckswound round and round with wirelike the necks of light bulbs.Their breasts were horrifying.I read it right straight through.I was too shy to stop.And then I looked at the cover:the yellow margins, the date.Suddenly, from inside,came an oh! of pain--Aunt Consuelo's voice--not very loud or long.I wasn't at all surprised;even then I knew she was a foolish, timid woman.I might have been embarrassed,but wasn't.  What took mecompletely by surprisewas that it was me:my voice, in my mouth.Without thinking at allI was my foolish aunt,I--we--were falling, falling,our eyes glued to the coverof the National Geographic,February, 1918.I said to myself: three daysand you'll be seven years old.I was saying it to stopthe sensation of falling offthe round, turning world.into cold, blue-black space.But I felt: you are an I,you are an Elizabeth,you are one of them.Why should you be one, too?I scarcely dared to lookto see what it was I was.I gave a sidelong glance--I couldn't look any higher--at shadowy gray knees,trousers and skirts and bootsand different pairs of handslying under the lamps.I knew that nothing strangerhad ever happened, that nothingstranger could ever happen.Why should I be my aunt,or me, or anyone?What similarities--boots, hands, the family voiceI felt in my throat, or eventhe National Geographicand those awful hanging breasts--held us all togetheror made us all just one?How--I didn't know anyword for it--how "unlikely". . .How had I come to be here,like them, and overheara cry of pain that could havegot loud and worse but hadn't?The waiting room was brightand too hot. It was slidingbeneath a big black wave,another, and another.Then I was back in it.The War was on. Outside,in Worcester, Massachusetts,were night and slush and cold,and it was still the fifth of February, 1918.

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