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Sunday, March 23, 2008

A Taunton Shopper Writes




















I have been reading:

John Haynes’ Letter to Patience. I can’t remember an English poet writing better about Africa, Nigeria in this case. Haines is the Englishman in Ulysses, as noted by Haynes, who also signals the roots of his name in the Anglo-Saxon ‘haga’, meaning ‘hedge’ or ‘enclosure’, a factoid that explains the name’s guilty association with the Enclosures movement in the nineteenth century. He handles terza rima a lot more skilfully than Heaney did in Station Island, though Heaney’s was unrhymed, which meant it wasn’t really terza rima anyway:

Autistic were they, Tarzan, Peter Pan,
Mowgli, those hunters through our videos
and comics strips – Tammylan, Caliban,

Green Man, who come back and come back like those
ghost abikus, ‘half savage and half child’
in Kipling’s words that might just be Rousseau’s?

Emile, I thought of, sitting in the Wild
Zone fenced off in Lara’s primary school.

{Quotation ends}

In Tarzan of the Apes, Tarzan teaches himself to read but not speak English from the children’s books his dead father has left in their cabin. He calls the printed letters ‘bugs’, as Haynes tells us in a note. An abiku is a Yoruba evil spirit. Haynes writes in long, loping verse paragraphs that are hard to excerpt. You’ll just have to read the whole thing.

John Riley was born in Leeds in 1937, and these days I find him a lot more palatable than the other Leeds poet of 1937 vintage, Tony Harrison. Peter Sirr has an enjoyable tribute to Riley here, and given the small problem he mentions with the Carcanet Selected Poems (much of the stock was destroyed when the IRA decided to blow Carcanet up) I was very happy to track a copy down myself. It came with a 1997 receipt from Our Price in Taunton pressed between the pages, inscribed with the words ‘Live life as you want Make sure you are happy with Life.’ The Selected omits the Russian translations (you’ll need the Grosseteste Press Collected for them), and slightly more understandably the ‘Geoff’ letters (what the hell were they all about?!), but try ‘in memoriam’ for size:

in almost total deprivation we are all
learned survivors, the soft fruit calls, soft rain
a crystal, carried internally, a facet gleams as if
by chance, at the bark of a tree, glows in the atmosphere

when memory is of the future
then we may speak of fear and sharpening
and of love too more than of the fallen fruit
of the form that is calling and to that lovely form

{Quotation ends}

Steve Burt’s recent LRB piece on Creeley has also been sending me back to Black Mountain Bob. Could some unsuspected Norn Irish roots be showing in the final ‘so we are of ‘A Birthday’?

Now slowly
spaces occur, a ground is
disclosed as dirt. The

mountains come of it,
the sky precedes, and where
there had been only

land now sticks and stones
are evident. So we are
here, so we are.

{Quotation ends}

I’ve also been reading plenty of Tim Robinson on Connemara, Claire Keegan’s short stories, and George Oppen’s prose, but what is this, the wire service? That’s enough quotations and updates for now.

Picture found here. Ah, Smithfield.

2 comments:

FAKE SHEIKH said...

Any thoughts on why Rafa didn't start Gerrard on Sunday? Ho ho. Seriously, I remember you mentioning a signed photo of Steven Gerrard. Forget that. What you want is a signed copy of his transfer request. Or a signed Barcelona contract. Ho ho again.

Seriously, it might have been 1-1 if Mascherano hadn't bottled it in the first half because we hadn't really turned up. As it stands, though, we're just going to have to win the league yet again. I believe that fact to be worth a vulgar smiley:

:)

puthwuth said...

We sometimes struggle against the smaller clubs, I confess.