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Monday, June 23, 2008

Hommes et Femmes

There’s a Jacques Lacan joke about a boy and girl on a train pulling into a station. ‘I see we’re in Femmes’, says the girl. ‘No you idiot, it’s Hommes!’ the boy corrects her.

Consider the implications of that joke in relation to the review pages of the new Poetry Review. As follows:

Steven Matthews reviews John Kinsella. Man/man.

Sara Crown reviews Brigit Pegeen Kelly, Tamara Fulcher and Mary Oliver. Woman/three women.

David Morley reviews Adam Foulds and Ciaran Carson. Man/two men.

Jamie McKendrick review Michael Hofmann/Bernard O’Donoghue. Man/two men.

Adam Thorpe reviews Taha Muhammad Ali and Mahmoud Darwish. Man/two men.

Jane Holland reviews Charlotte Mew, Ruth Pitter and Janet Frame. Woman/three women.

Michael Hulse reviews Matthew Francis and Robert Crawford. Man/two men.

Sarah Wardle reviews Annemarie Austin, Sujata Bhatt, Alison Brackenbury, U.A. Fanthorpe and R.V. Bailey. Woman/five women.

Tim Liardet reviews John Seed, Ken Cockburn, Julian Stannard, Graham Mort, Gerard Smyth, John McAuliffe, Philip Nikolayev and David Grubb. Man/eight men.

Melanie Challenger reviews Lotte Kramer, Zoe Brigley, Jen Hadfield, Gerrie Fellows and Julie O’Callaghan. Woman/five women.

Tony Frazer reviews Kenji Miyazawa, Soleïman Adel Guémar, Ivan Blatný, Nikola Vaptsarov, Yana Glembotskaya and Oleg Burkov (eds), and Marc Falkoff (ed). Man/four men plus two anthologies, one of whose three editors is a man. Reader, Nikola Vaptsarov is a man.

Charlotte Newman reviews Tamar Yoseloff, Kathryn Simmonds, Deborah Garrison and Jane Griffiths. Woman/four women.

The Tony Frazer review complicates things ever so slightly, but leaving those two anthologies out of the picture we still have seven male reviewers reviewing 21 men and five women reviewing 20 women.

Hommes and Femmes. Someone tell me how highly significant this is, and why, or why in fact it means nothing at all.


puthwuth said...

Background Artist, let's not turn this into a personalized debate -- comments made in jest may be taken seriously, as they say in airports.

puthwuth said...

Taken seriously by other people I mean. I myself take nothing seriously, as should be apparent.

Background Artist said...

OK swift doc sidhe..

i wasn't being *personal* as i know not anyone at all in that rag, only through their print.

i'm like you in the sense that i am a man who is also having a laugh doing what i must be addicted to, after seven yrs bluffing.

but i understand where yr caution is coming from. you only know i from print and i could be mentally ill and not taking the medz, like that ex cop-bus driver who didn't take his and ended up taking a bus from the garage and going for a spin, and which turned into a tragic episode after the guards chased him and he thought it was MI5 undercover, dressed as guards, and who were really part of a global conspiracy, centering on this mentally ill bus driver who hadn't been taking his proscribed medication.

And anyone whose own mind created the fiction that i am mentally ill and not on medz i should be, well, that's the joy of being a Concrete poet innit?

As in, not my problem pal/s if editors of poetry rags think i am telepathically targeting them as some grand conspiracy of nicking their job say, in central London, in a Georgian pad, steering the Concrete chat into critical utterance and Judging others via the printed word alone.

For me, there are two componenets to Concrete poetry, live and in print, and i think many poets, do not get out much. Indeed you lead me to prove here a few weeks back that a poet from the another than the one i'm in, read summat like six times a yr, all in universitys, and thus her critical utterances are informed by a narrow band of practice, and thus intellectual intercourse with a Concrete verse person, who has a wit, soh, an eye to and mind to prove it, will be one way, logic suggests, if this poet whose name i have already forgot (if i ever remembered it in the first place) this Rival/s name and circumstance in what ms Baroque is musing on this monday, Status in the IT age.

How does one measure it?

by a photo?

of course this is a facile question, but still, lots of ppl and poets post up many images of themselves, which to the practitioner whose logic leads them not to incorporate this continual me me me, look this is me and blah blah (not you of course, seriously, as i am not thick and can see yr Concrete poetry time at trinners was one long enjoying time - a laugh)

And i do not mean to be factitious or take the piss, and in no way am reffering to the pictures you post as you have only done one of yerself, same as me, and fiona sampson, to me, seriously, i know she is the current magus publisher there with three books of poetry to her name, some of which i have read, and but her work i think is overated, and if this is a crime, sue me.

And i say this not because she is not very talented and clever and brilliant and very competent at what she does in verse, but because my practice is based fifty fifty Live and Print, love and peace, what is Poetry, WaR, write and recite, something to make us a millionaire? something to break our heart and leave us skint and unhappy? something to break our heart, leave us skint and very very happy?

i spent three yrs dave in Concrete poetry HQ, and at first thought, bah, it means little as look at they who know more than i, they didn't choose to become a writer or poet by doing something as ill fitting for a poet as a Writing Studies joint drama degree for three yrs. No they did Engineering and Leisure management studies, film studies, or the highest of all for a poet, or close to it many would say: Philosophy, *wisdom through friendship*

That's what ollamh Dr Sampson has mister Wheatley, desmond's words though, needs only a mind to upper in the case of s/he of the We the people, poet/s masques makers, many stranded individuals, all of us -- every single human -- Unique, and a Live Failure in Concrete poetry mr wheatley; is what i specifically trained to do.

And i missed out on the golden days of the armitage era when everyone else was being fabtastic, as i was digging holes in the road and drinking and being a mug, until writing came into my life and saved me from Silence and unhappiness, and what i admire about Fiona is, she seems so Inclusive and welcoming, widening participation in Concrete poetry in the UK..

myself i am studying the Noh theatrical route of total free play and Live, i am yet to meet any poet who intellectual foundations on which they become Concrete poets, tops mine, being honest, and Sampson, yeah, i have heard the recordings and to be honest, she sounded like another, Irish poet whose name i will not mention here, out of prejudice and a desire to keep the critical upset minimal: sampson sounded mettalic and dull, as if the Live side to her practice of Poetry, was not based on a very high energy, punk or rock and roll ethos of diy, anyone can have a go and get to made feel special, or rather, that their is no Sir shit going on, the immediate elevation into the rtag just coz of one is..

..not the Royal *we* the English people, to wit: *We* the very few minscule amount of people boon Better british, just coz of me mah and dah having a whuppie..

Noh is my theatre daithi and i love Poetry and concrete critical positions, and it is all a gamne to me, and i will not be spanked by anyone but a poet who is Democratically cleverer, better Live than me Fitzgerald Swords nock nock Noh theatre, kevin Desmond, that's my name and not Sir, but messers desmond masterson swords and English of Bohola, that's me. same as mick English the singer currently slotting in to the natural void Donegal O'Connell Daniel leaves once his Maj entered the frame, so any paranoia, ppl who do not know where they stand as a result of me, Live and in print, well, that's me Sorted as a Deasmhuman bhard, fellow dub citizen..

and seriously, i will swap new yorkers for PR..

Mark Granier said...

Let me put you promptly out of your misery Puthwuth. Women in this mag happen to review women and men men. So? This probably bears as much consideration as Silliman's two recent brainstorms. Yummy fodder for the statisticians. I'm sure it's keeping you awake in the small hours.

Background. A little suggestion. If you shortened your posts just a tad (say by about 95%) someone might actually read them. In the absence of such pruning, I will parrot what Puthwuth said recently; I agree with every word you've written. No, I'll go farther, every letter (and your ellipses are especially on the mark).

puthwuth said...

Mark, I would defend myself here, up to a certain point, and argue that the subject of gender and reviewing does indeed warrant some scrutiny. There is an all too familiar trope in poetry journals of women writers being written about by women reviewers, in ways that bear all too many resemblances to the still hale and hearty women-only anthology or journal special issue, and humbly, mistakenly or outright idiotically (take your pick), I think this is something whose cultural significance people might want to ponder.

puthwuth said...

As for someone 'actually reading' my posts, I'm not sure what your thrust is here. I have about five or six regular readers, as far as I can make out (slightly less than Silliman, in other words), which is probably about the same as anything I publish in real life as opposed to on here, but anything I post here is either interesting or not, whether anyone reads it or not. Let's get into a pissing competition about audience figures here!

puthwuth said...

Oh that's hilarious, I thought you meant that second paragraph for me Mark!

Ho ho.

Apologies all round.

Background Artist said...

Dear Fin mac Cool
breeze in sandy cove

an audience of forms
fawning in the hurl

cut toe to hip: just
it is the national G

gee fabstastic game A
cille chirch of sidhe

of We the royal ppl A
ll trying to hit beyond

the tuatha boundaries
slaughter the fuax chep

toe Rag and bone royal
gush, flourishing and P
axed balls hurled to He

adds times ten stoned
scangers, to the colour

south east asia, here i
the blank of fawning love

above a tuatha de danann
God Ohm omg Daithi what

yell: Concrete critical
utterance, let that, let

her Majestic Concrete tell
us of a sidhe who is just

not Noh, just not Us, them
the H's who cannot love

us the sidhe of Surrey gel
Bury mountain shack at the

wrong end of the M62, manque
scops, plastic tank tops

runners way from the Mountain
mohamed Ali the Champ, son

of God, four square stood
an apparition, a gift Fitz G

holland, tanned orange fawn
tans all career long, sidhe

merlins to a wo/man


That's it guys, we've got an audience of each other, Hurrah !

Dave's revelation of six regs, was the Poetry i detected, as it appeared by mistake, after he mistook yr excellent editorial advice directed to me, because your own tenor is very pitched and sassy, and daithi need live/s up to his name as native mister Nimble of the noh theatrical club, of which i am the founding imitational bore at bhard stair, turning on the step to face my fawn/s of, Us three, half our number, six regs, Cliff, cliff's gotta be a reg, coz dave posted him up, which leaves two, two more unheard members, officially in Dave's mob..

i bet they are blokes, or maybe one (who knows perhaps even two) Woman fan, reading here, wanting Me, out there in the Void of victorious poetic Love prayer, cheps, gels, Trinnity doves, thrashing beneath willow with wollowy ban-fili's bat, pads, gloves, sun-glass back, bhard bake in that Stare, stare c'mon on nest by love Fitzgerald stair to Noh Love dave and cliff, mark and i, thank you mister GW deniers out there i know hate our clique, our merry band of clever lovers of lit, mick lit shadows and caves of dawning golden warmth, orbital of eat yr puppies dave, we are a Group to become sweepers of the nex Arm it ages lover bunny, so Noh ON, Englush i am, bohola is half of me, all of she who i love, Mother Earth, mummy and daddy Gia, Noh will a way to that Live love poetry pleasers, King dennis has arrived, yes, s/he knows he has the best gear, the old irish knower on Knock apparition, ninety nine nine, one and thirty spins, Trinity appears, in the Corn of a Wall, her Majesty appeared to me that night Dave adn mark, Cliff, a cornish guy, a diy'er, Punk s/he behind the eyes, total lover, let the golden Dawn of a new stiltless age, aeon/s born that night there with the royal mob, scores settled in that room as the platinum light ushered in wh's who, the Palace, s/he'll always have the palace of Head's nea bent, knees ram rod not flexed, not a squeeze to the faux Maj, daniel knows that, Noh away far away, where a cool breeze rings, alone on the dock of a Hub all collapsed, rent apart by consultancy chaps on biffo wages, lost all alone, through the fields i roam, the act of a known sidhe persuader, in two a light, threshold passed ollamh (not) there a lower course repuation, a million smiles


to H, jesus's slave jane holland is having anor episode of PM Tuatha de paranoia on her - as yet not - Live career at the opem Mic, yah, another bitter ranty person who learned not on the back of my scholarship

she turfed me out of yr Gulag abalze with erudite chat, for being a Man (i suspect) and now, i am to Blame for her being less successful as a bore, pleading with nought but a mournful load of aul bollix, about me stalking Her highness, who i need not prove with Abraham's hebrew here, has got a Thing for my tuatha Don of s/he in the Me and we men who devote time getting on in velum of Ohm and ancient books, the Mind chaps, stalk on H odd balls holland yr Great, but puhleez yah, Fitzgerald's words, Grow up and be like Di, and ambassodr for her Majesty's race of Royal ppl, yah, laughabley white coated behavior by yr Leader guys, join Tony's Faith school fellas, jane is saving the Planet, dindn#t /she just effing rant about it, bitter, bonkers, our Boss's face is very very Happy on the Imramm messers swift cliff mark, Noh?

Kit Fryatt said...

I think the problem is that men don't tend to get asked to review women's poetry very often because not very many men seem to be interested in women's poetry, as a stroll around a poetry conference will show you. Women present papers on men, men present papers on men. A man talking about women's poetry is rare because men feel, sometimes justifiably, sometimes just as an excuse not to engage, that their contributions to a discussion on a woman poet won't be taken seriously. Men don't like not being taken seriously. They seem to take not being taken seriously a lot more seriously than women do, maybe because it doesn't happen to them as much.
So most men don't seem interested in women's poetry -- therefore most editors don't ask them to review it. So women end up reviewing women, and there aren't very many women reviewers left over to review the men poets, producing the sort of gendered situation you give an extreme but no uncommon example of. I'm not trying to "blame" men exactly, but I think it is a result of men's uninterest in women, rather than the other way round, because when critics get a choice, you see lots of women writing on men, and not very many men writing on women.
I'm also reminded of the time, many years ago, when I panned Fleur Adcock for Metre, and Neil AStley assumed that I was a man, because, I suppose, no woman would be so unsisterly...sweet really...

Background Artist said...

ooh, Fry at Pax and Gra kit fryat, who is a very talented guild member, doing Biffo hiests for the college of Dea, in the heart of the jackeen liar, flitting though this cities amazingly cultural quarters, from Tallaght to Sutton, wherever Poetry is to be found, Kit fryatt to is there, settling the questions of sound.


I did not thank you properly Fryatt for the very special, final Sunday afternoon of the Poetry and Education Conference at the Institute listening to mister Dawe masterfully handle the crowd there, all fifteen or so of us, committed professional poetry bores.

That afternoon, apart from Gerald introducing things and keeping order, there were two bluffers gushing from the front, and when i say bluffers i do so affectionately Fryatt, as i am one myself, we all are in print to certain degrees i think perhaps; so fear not i am going to do the dirty and act as mister smarty pants, getting a cheap gag in because of yr, or anyones' gender.

Noh and Concrete poetry are my proofs i am hopelessly deluded kit, as any *serious* ppl, are gonna read it, blatant as my (nearly entire now) bald plate of total Dome, housing the meat and two veg of the Intellect machinery, and from deep within the dome, Noh is there, and when i conduct the various rites of Higher adept initiation into the many many levels and labyrinths of the Golden Dawn, then, then Kit my talented deamon bruiser of the Noh school (if you join at the next meeting, tonight, Seven Towers, Cassidy's)

..the Concrete cementing into the specific Event of reality, the convening of the holy ppl who run the 7 towers machine of total take over, with Master of the Universe, or at least mister Walsh is on the books there...(master of the universe is a dub legend, aiden walsh) and thus, once again..., i am only specualting, exrtemporising so forgive any weirdo stuff, i am a newbie learner in the ollamh zone, and anyway what i am trying to do, is just surf on, using life to be happy, recalling what has gone, and turning into art, and for me the conference, that afternoon, the first time wales and ireland played rugby at Croke pairc.

I came across the conference details at the last mo, on the Sunday morning and thought i'd go, and the mass of ppl, the match, added a frisson to the whole experience for everyone there.

the excellent John MacAuliffe had just finished his delivery on *no more sestinas* and the main draw, or one of them, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanái, stepped into the space after a brief intro by Gerald, began on the poetry of translation, but you will no doubt remember it was right at the start of the match.

We had tried to ignore it at first, or at least that was the impression i got, that Poetry was here to be talkied of, not silly rugby games, though we were also aware that, though it was just a match, it was a very historic occassion, the weight of which was the ingredient affecting the whole dynamic of the period between J getting off and E coming on.

And she gave up, when the national anthem came on and the roar from the ground, a few hundred meteres away, the hairs on the backl of my neck, and E's too i reckon, if not stiff, certainly the invisible spear routing old Alf the house Man had going through him when the real proofs collided with his own diy, punk lead self..

That was all i wanted to say really, as i think all the Clever issues of is man thicker than Woman, woman thicker then men, when i have just discovered, the we are all as Yeats had it, the sidhe haven't gone away you know, they never have, as they are here now, and there in croker at the conference organsied by yr always excellent self as s/he eg Mind, and i hardly know you but you've always struck me as someone who has a bit of nous, and i have read the class bashings yr s/he wrought, superb, like ice, but men and women, i didn't even know there was all this palava going on, as i am not exactly from the top echelon, if we are measuring it by Greater standards, as i am the child of irish immigrants and the best they can hope for is assimilation into a culture not Irish, but here, with the sidhe, i am trevor the tramp or the earl of Achill supreme court of poetic fair play, which meets once a blue moon, and anyway, thanks very much for the very special afternoon, the day ten or so words passed between us,

and if yer avin any more cons, please let me speak there as i am ready now to take on the Nemeton mob..

gra agus peace

George S said...

I don't know about Poetry Review but I am often asked to review women as well as men for various sizeable organs. I can't be alone in this.

Though I do remember, still with considerable bemusement, that when I first started reviewing for Quarto and the TLS about the time of Industrial Revolution in the late 1970s, I was given ALL the foreign books on the clearly reasonable grounds that I myself was a foreigner so could be trusted to understand other such. No wonder the Winter of Discontent followed soon after.

I don't complain, I learned a great deal, but it does seem to be a ready-to-hand principle to review like by like. I suppose it seems natural that nature writers should be revierwed by nature writers, just as historians are reviewed by historians.

In the like manner let the blind lead the blind, let the lame hobble with the lame, let the foreign talk foreign to the foreigner, let women talk to women and men to men.

For is not the truth that it takes one to know another.

Ailbhe said...

George S - your response seems to suggest that you consider women's poetry and men's poetry as genuine categories, with real differences...?

George S said...

Ailbhe - Just picked up your comment, probaby too late. Personally no. I am being ironic.That is what the anecdotal first part was setting up. It was based on puthwuth's observations and just noting the same thing happened in other areas.

Not that I know whether I should regard mens and women's poetry as separate categories, even in the pages of MsLexia. What do you think? Should there be a MsLexia, or an Orange Prize? Should there not? And if there should, what does that say about categories?

I suspect all options are open and people do what suits them at the time.

Ailbhe said...

Sorry. I thought you might be, but I wasn't sure. I'm not good with online irony. It really is too late to say so now, isn't it?