Category Archives: Poetry

John Tranter has served his time as a poet, with more than twenty books to his credit, including four large anthologies containing over a thousand pages of other people’s work.

Veronica Forrest-Thomson reprinted!

I was delighted to find these:

Veronica Forrest-Thomson – Poetic Artifice

A Theory of Twentieth-Century Poetry
Edited & introduced by Gareth Farmer
Published by Shearsman UK, October 2015. Paperback, 223pp, 9 x 6ins £14.95
ISBN 9781848614451

Veronica Forrest-Thomson, Cambridge, 1972, copyright © Jonathan Culler 1972, 2012
Veronica Forrest-Thomson, Cambridge, 1972, copyright © Jonathan Culler 1972, 2012

 
 
First published posthumously in 1978 by Manchester University Press, this volume turned sharply against critics of the previous generation, notably William Empson, and against emergent strains of historicism. The book is an exhaustive (and sometimes exhausting) defence of “all the rhythmic, phonetic, verbal, and logical devices which make poetry different from prose.” According to the author, such devices are responsible for poetry’s most significant effect—not pleasure or ornament or some kind of special expressivity, but the production of “alternative imaginary orders.”

AND:

Veronica Forrest-Thomson – Collected Poems

Paperback, published by Shearman UK, 188pp, 9x6ins Download a PDF sampler from this book here.
This volume brings back into print the complete poems of Veronica Forrest-Thomson (1947–1975), whose work remains a touchstone for those interested in radical poetry in the 1970s. The book contains all of her published collections, plus poems that remained in manuscript, and contains work that has come to light since the publication of the Collected Poems and Translations (Allardyce, Barnett, 1990) as well as a number of corrections to the first edition.

So go to Shearsman and grab a copy of each!
 
Also see Jacket Magazine 20 for more on VFT and gossip
on the Cambridge Leisure Factory and the Aspidistra Cult,
not to mention Tom Clark: Letters home from Cambridge (1963–65) and Parataxis magazine (Cambridge, UK), Editors: Drew Milne & Simon Jarvis, and Five poets and an essay from Quid magazine, Cambridge, UK, Editor, Keston Sutherland; and Hugh Sykes Davies — ‘a lioness in the sidecar’ — and a breathless amount of other British Things!
Including a photo of the young William Empson,
Salvador Dali in a diving helmet, and so on and so forth.

 

Advice…

John Tranter: Advice to a New Writer

forlorn-poet
I’ve been writing and publishing poetry for half a century. Now and then I receive enquiries from people starting out to be a writer, asking me to read their manuscripts (for nothing) and tell them what they should do to become a famous published poet, or at least a published poet. I don’t have the time or the inclination to read poetry manuscripts or to write lots of personal letters, and since what I say is always the same, here it is.

Find another career.

Please…
Continue reading Advice…

The Difficult William Empson

Martin Johnston outside Exiles bookshop, Oxford Square, Sydney, 1980, at a reading for Canberra poet Robert BrissendenMJ: “…I remember a poetry reading years ago which William Empson gave at a pub in London. And he read a series of very, very opaque poems, and made two comments on them. One of them was “By God I was good, when I wrote that!”. The other was “I can’t really see what the difficulty is.” And his audience evidently could.” Australian poet Martin Johnston, being interviewed by John Tranter, Radio Helicon, ABC Radio National, 1987.
Photo: Martin Johnston, Oxford Street, Taylor Square, Sydney, 1980, outside Exiles bookshop. The poster in the background is a silkscreen poster by John Tranter: “We’re With you, Ray! (Ray Denning, fugitive from Justice, later killed). It’s better to be up and doing than down and being done.” Photo by John Tranter.

Morris’s Horace

morris-horace
Is this a silly fantasy, or is it deeply valuable? William Morris: The Odes of Horace, written and decorated by hand.

‘We seem to have been granted access to a treasure: vulnerable, threatened by the very transience that Horace’s odes resist and lament, and therefore all the more highly to be prized’ Clive Wilmer

The genius of William Morris found expression in many different media. Here, for the first time, we have reproduced one of his gems of manuscript illumination: The Odes of Horace, a treasure of the Bodleian Library in Oxford. Produced by the Folio Society.

Production Details: • Limited to 980 copies • Facsimile volume • Printed on Tatami paper in coloured inks with gold and silver foil • Bound in Indian smooth-grain goatskin with 5 raised bands on the spine • Gold blocked on spine, edges and doublures • Shuffled pages • 192 pages • 6¾” x 5″ (I’m not sure what “shuffled pages” means. Cards, yes. JT)

American Women

feminism
“…these efforts are an integral part of what appears to be a larger and longer-term trend in American verse: the emergence of a generation of women poets whose visibility, authority, and regard within the national poetry community, judging from the available hard data, notably outstrips that of their male counterparts. Indeed, after many decades of patriarchal hegemony, the new gender gap in American poetry is both significant and widening.” More at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/seth-abramson/the-widening-gender-gap-i_b_4213440.html

1981

courthouse-hotel-newtown-1981
Over thirty years ago: seems like yesterday: At the 1981 launch of Surfers Paradise magazine at the Courthouse Hotel, Newtown: photo of (L to R) Nigel Roberts, (unknown), Richard Stern (late of a Bookshop in Macleay Street, Potts Point), Eve Jennings, Mark O’Connor (sporting a Van Dyke beard), Kathy Davidson (with Richard Stern). Photo by John Tranter, Olympus XA, Technical Pan film, split-toned in Adobe Lightroom in 2014.

The Mewar Ramayana

ramayana
Welcome to one of the world’s most beautiful Ramayana manuscripts. The original was prepared for Maharana Jagat Singh, the ruler of the Rajput kingdom of Mewar in Rajasthan, in the middle of the seventeenth century.

Most volumes of the manuscript are now in the British Library. They were presented by Maharana Bhim Singh of Mewar to Colonel James Tod who brought them back to Britain in 1823. Other parts have remained in India, held today in three separate institutions and one private collection.

Digitisation has made it possible for this long-divided manuscript to be brought together again for the first time in almost 200 years. The majority of text pages in the manuscript have been digitised as well as the paintings so that Valmiki’s work can be read in the original Sanskrit.

Link here: http://www.bl.uk/ramayana

Auden, Ashbery, Brodsky and The Nobel

ja-auden-london-1972

From my FaceBook page: Photo, above: Ashbery and Auden at the Poetry International Festival in London in 1972: Auden’s friend the Nobel-greedy Joseph Brodsky is sucking up to them both but his image has been trimmed from the RHS of the photo. Auden cheerfully knocked back the Nobel Prize in 1964… did you know that? I didn’t. You must read this recent piece from the NYTBR by Edward Mendelson on Auden: “W.H. Auden had a secret life that his closest friends knew little or nothing about. Everything about it was generous and honorable. He kept it secret because he would have been ashamed to have been praised for it… Auden… seems to have mentioned the incident only once, when he went to dinner with his friend Lincoln Kirstein the same evening and said, “There goes the Nobel Prize.” The prize went to Jean-Paul Sartre, who refused it.” More At http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2014/mar/20/secret-auden/

Parmagianino: Self-portrait in a Convex Mirror, circa 1524.

parmigianino_selfportrait_c_1524

The painting John Ashbery was referring to in his 1975 poem “Sef-portrait in a Convex Mirror”…

Of the origin of Francesco Parmigianino’s “Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror,” 16th century painter and art historian Giorgio Vasari wrote: “He began to draw himself as he appeared in a barber’s convex glass. He had a ball of wood made at a turner’s and divided in half, and on this he set himself to paint all that he saw in the glass. Because the mirror enlarged everything that was near and diminished what was distant, he painted the hand a little large.”

Four centuries later, poet John Ashbery took up the painting in the title poem of his Pulitzer Prize-winning book Self Portrait in a Convex Mirror:

As Parmigianino did it, the right hand
Bigger than the head, thrust at the viewer
And swerving easily away, as though to protect
What it advertises.

Ashbery’s ecphrastic poetry is unique because, as poet David Lehman has remarked, Ashbery uses specific paintings “as points of departure that discover themselves by meditating on objets d’art, and thus displacing them. . . . Gazing at the painting, the poet comes virtually to inhabit its room, to make its quarters his own.”

– See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/5926

Not sure about the hair… but: Nice Jacket!!

The Gaslight Poetry Café, 1961

The Coen Brothers’ movie “Inside Llewyn Davis” (late 2013) takes place mainly in the folk singing venue the Gaslight Poetry Café, Greenwich Village, New York, in 1961. In the movie, the last folkie seen to take the stage bears a suspicious resemblance to the young Bob Dylan, not long after he left his rightful name (Robert Zimmerman of Hibbing Minnesota) behind for good. Yes, Bob played the Gaslight, in 1961. Here’s the album to prove it.

dylan-gaslight-1961

The Olsonite

Is an “Olsonite” a committed follower of the poetry of the great US poet Charles Olson, 1910 to 1970, poet and literary theorist, widely credited with first using the term “postmodern” in discussing American poetry and known for his association with the Black Mountain poets and for his influence on the generation of American poets who emerged after World War II?

olsonite-one

Or just the material used to manufacture a toilet lid in the Durant Hotel in Berkeley, California?

olsonite-two

No offence meant to the career, work or reputation of a great American poet. He can’t help being accidentally related to the American plastics industry.

O’Hara

No, not a memorial to US poet Frank O’Hara, as poetry lovers might imagine, or John O’Hara, for those who prefer prose. Two of three such devices, much-trodden-on, let into the sidewalk of Telegraph Avenue, Berkeley, California, long ago and discovered in December 2013 and photographed by John Tranter. Once upon a time the O’Hara Company made these little brass lids for under-sidewalk pipes — for fuel oil, perhaps — some ten centimeters square, about the size of a CD cover. The address of the firm in Los Angeles, some three hundred and fifty miles away, is now (in 2013) a near-derelict building not far from the Los Angeles Galvanizing Company.

ohara-sidewalk-two

Auckland, 16 December 2013

Anyone in Auckland New Zealand next Monday 16 December, drop by the Auckland City Library at 5:50 in the evening to drink some wine and hear some poetry by John Tranter, Michele Leggott, Anne Kennedy and Robert Sullivan! Phone Auckland 377 0209.

Starlight John Tranter poetry A4