Posts tagged with ‘poetry’

Erasmus Darwin by Desmond King-Hele

This is a biography of Charles Darwin’s grandfather. He was a doctor by trade, and one of the most highly rated in the country, but was one of those classic Enlightenment figures whose interests included botany, meteorology, physics, chemistry, engineering, philosophy and just about anything else that came his way. And for a few years […]

Welcome to a Golden Age

Apparently someone has declared that poetry is dead again. Or still dead. As a critical stance this lacks originality, but never mind. I’m just surprised anyone thinks they can tell. Looking back at the canon, the total difference between a Golden Age Of Poetry and a leaden one is two or three great poets who […]

Anglo-Saxon names

Teju has a couple of great posts about names and what they mean (1, 2), specifically relating to Yoruba. Which set me thinking about Anglo-Saxon naming. I have no idea exactly what relationship the Saxons had with their names, and I don’t know what academic work has been done on it—I’m just going on the […]

Poetry and ‘truth’

It’s Poetry Thursday, and I don’t feel like writing a poem after napowrimo. Instead, some thoughts about poetry and ‘truth’. It always used to annoy the hell out of me when I heard people suggest that poetry—or more generally literature, or art—was somehow a search for truth, or that the success of a piece of […]

Napowrimo: consider yourself warned

If you started reading this blog in the past 11 months, you may not know about Napowrimo. Napowrimo is modelled on Nanowrimo—National novel-writing month—a scheme which encourages people to try to write a novel (or at least 50,000 words) in the month of November. Napowrimo is national poetry-writing month, and the target is a poem […]

More crakery from the canon

I didn’t want my post on rails and crakes to suffer from poetry bloat, so I didn’t quote it before, but John Clare isn’t the only Dead Famous English Poet who mentioned corncrakes in a poem. This is the mowing scene from Upon Appleton House, to My Lord Fairfax by Andrew Marvell. I went through […]

Fave books of 2006

It’s end-of-year list time. These weren’t all first published this year, and I daresay I’ve forgotten some, but they are at least all books I’d recommend. In no particular order: Rembrandt’s Eyes by Simon Schama. I blogged about this before. Simon is a serious historian (rather than, say, a journalist who writes occasional books) who […]

The market value of a poem

If poems were not easily reproduced — if, as with paintings, owning a copy of a poem was obviously a poor alternative to owning the original — how much would an original Armitage sell for? A Larkin? An Eliot? A Marvell?

Shelley the lost Victorian

Well, I’ve finished Richard Holmes’s Shelley:The Pursuit. I didn’t find it as gripping as his superb biography of Coleridge, but it became more enjoyable as it went along. Mainly, I think, because Shelley became much more likeable as he matured personally, politically and poetically. Not that he became less radical, or completely lost the restlessness […]

The titling of poetry journals

Why is it that almost every poetry journal in existence is titled according to one of two models? The [placename] [publication] or [catchy, non-poetry-related noun] Surely the language allows other possibilities?

Shelley update

I’m still reading the Shelley biography. Remarkably, his personal life seems to have stabilised somewhat, I suspect mainly because his grandfather died and so, while the exact terms of the legacy are still with the lawyers, he’s not actually having to hide from the bailiffs any more. The chances of his life running smooth are […]

Shellier than thou

I didn’t mention in the last post that, as well as the two elopements, Shelley has been shot at by a Welsh ghost, is under observation by the government because of his seditious publications, and is going extravagantly into debt in expectation of an inheritance from a family which has disowned him. Was there ever […]

Shelley, Shellier, Shelliest.

I’m reading a biography of Percy Bysshe. An interesting and talented man, but perhaps just a wee bit erratic; he’s just eloped for the second time, abandoning his first wife and their new child in order to run off with a 16-year-old. And her sister. And he’s still only 21.

Stereotyping, cultural appropriation and such

Alan Sullivan has posted a poem called Long Bay Jump, both to his blog and to Erato, which is in a West Indian voice. It starts: Sun drop down with a flash of green. Moon lift up, and the palm tree lean. Jack fish bake in banana wrap. Pi-dog snatch all the table scrap. Ganja […]

Yet another quick sonnet

I don’t know why I’m posting these really. Certainly not because I claim any merit for them. Still, as with NaPoWriMo, the exercise of writing to a time limit is quite interesting, I think. The need to get something written makes you work with material that, rightly or not, you would normally have rejected out […]

Another quick sonnet

Down to 12 minutes, this time. They sing of eels; the fishmongers trill their local songs and try to drown the spiels of sellers of deceptive pongs. The three-card trickers hope to draw the punters from the stall that sells the polyester knickers; and little acned Tom with his knock-off Louis Vuitton hopes to get […]

Quick (ish) sonnet

This was my go at Rob’s quick sonnet challenge. In the event it took me about 26 minutes, which isn’t very good considering that the the classic challenge is 15 minutes. The hiss of pebbles on a shingled beach, the stranded bladderwrack, the grey sea-holly, hard against the spray, the oystercatchers calling each to each. […]

Dada, modernism and suchlike

I seem to have gone a bit link-happy over the past 24 hours, producing a daily links post which is far too long. So I’ll single out one of them in case you miss it: Charles Simic on Dada. I always think of continental Europe as being the natural home of modernism. The Great War, […]

9rules Writing Community

9rules strikes me as potentially a great idea. It’s basically a conglomeration of blogs, each of which has been approved as reaching a certain standard of quality. The 9rules Network is a community of the best weblogs in the world on a variety of topics. We started 9rules to give passionate writers more exposure and […]

God’s cock and hen

I woke up this morning to see something fluttering against the inside of the window-panes. Without my glasses, I couldn’t think what it was – it seemed too big for a moth and too small and whirring for a bird. It turned out to be a wren. They’re such nice things, but they are slightly […]

Anglo-Saxon literature

I was lying awake last night, unable to sleep because of the heat, and wondering whether translating a bit of Anglo-Saxon poetry would get me out of my lengthening barren spell. I think the majority of people who did my degree resented having to spend such a lot of time on Anglo-Saxon, but I always […]

shook foil

I know why the phrase ‘like shining from shook foil’ is in my head — because I was putting some foil over a dish of coronation chicken. More peculiar is the other thing that’s been going around my head this morning: “Bush and Saddam sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G”. I think it’s unlikely that either […]

In Praise of Shadows

‘Modern man, in his well-lit house, knows nothing of the beauty of gold…’ From Junichirō Tanizaki’s In Praise of Shadows, an essay from 1933 discussing the importance of lighting in traditional Japanese aesthetics. The gold, the lacquer, Nō theatre, even Japanese make-up are all, he suggests, dependent for their effect on low, indirect lighting; bright […]