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Monday, September 08, 2008

Chris Wallace-Crabbe

Few are the writers who pass my bookshelf’s double figures test, but among them, I see when I add his new collection Telling a Hawk from a Handsaw, is Chris Wallace-Crabbe.

‘My particular joke was being healthy’, he writes in ‘A Vocation’, sounding his usual Horatian note, the pursuit of the good life, but with a satisfyingly pinch of self-mockery in the mix too.

I find the eudaemonist view, that ‘Everything is Going to Be All Right’, perhaps the single most difficult to make poetry out of. When I try it, which is not often, nothing comes. Happiness writes white. ‘Tranquillity’, CWC writes in ‘Reading Smoke with Orpheus’, ‘It can be painted, but /it’s very much like reading smoke /or seeing a snake as mobile typography.’ Not that CWC doesn’t take a walk on the dark side too (the political sonnets in his last book, By and Large, took a gloomy view of the Australian body politic and the jiggery-pokery of PoMo academics), though here I sense that shading into a dim but calm crepuscular view of things: ‘Dust in the eye-corners: /inert gases where the soul should reside’. Or:

Because they are also us
judgement sways and falters
old ligaments tightening up,
limping in our long, subjective jogathon
round the desolate park

for now.

The Ithaca chapter of Ulysses, you may recall, ends with a dot. Not a full stop, but a dot. CWC’s ‘The Alignments’ is an ode to dots. ‘Why do things /have a line around them?’, the poet remembers his daughter asking. Shades of the Robert Kilroy-Silk gaffe about the Arabs giving European civilisation nothing, boom boom. The poem mentions Klee but not that dot-matrix-master Seurat, who I mention here as someone whose name I’ve always wanted to rhyme with ‘sewer rat’.

As for poetry readings:

Poets on the circuit
are talking out their days
As they won’t get money,
all they need is praise.

Poets on the circuit
have shocks of silver hair.
Yes, they’ll do a reading
more or less anywhere.

This last claim is all too true, evidently, given that CWC is giving a reading in Artlink on Prince’s Avenue, Hull on 18 September at 6pm. So why not come along, you shower of useless lazy so-and-sos.

Finally, I cannot let this post pass without mentioning the line CWC says at readings he has always wanted, but never been able to incorporate in a poem. It is ‘Release the tiny hamster of desire.’

1 comment:

Coirí Filíochta said...


So i'm back, from outer space
you just walked in to find me here
with that daft grin upon my gob

You should have changed yr stupid lock

You should have made me take my tabs

If you had known for just one second

I'd be back to bore and bother you

Go on now go walk out the door
just turn around now

'cause you're not welcome anymore
weren't you the one who tried to hurt me with goodbye

you think I'd crumble
you think I'd lay down and die

Oh no, not I
I will survive
as long as i know how to hate
I know I'll stay alive

I've not got much life to live

I've got no love to give
and I will die

O I will die
all because of you, all because of you

i am mentally ill


Good to see you back in control of that depressing seaport Dave. A whole new batch of young women..erm I mean students to educate in the finer points of the English lingo.

Bob Sheppard who is Heaney to my Muldoon, if we take it as Heaney being Bob Cobbing and Muldoon Eric Mottram bent slaving over a throbbing photocopier in Easrls Court circa 1974 in the thick of the campaign for control of the future of Bwitish poetry; he always starts his poetry shindigs weith a low down on a chart update of whose shuffled off to The House of Donn, informing his audience of recent poet passings.

Silliman is good at this sort fo thing, and the deaths of poets, always brings about a day or two of hostilities ceasing between the various crusaders concerned with the incredibly important issues of the good health of English language poetry.

Good to see you back..

Have a gander here

i have started recording in seven towers monthly do, so if you can get over on the last wednesday of any month, Cassidy's on Westmoreland street which used to be the Westmoreland, right near the bridge. i can launch your live career dave. i have real power now, and if you can bring any women poets, i am desperate for them, as ideally i am going to make it 50/50 like i did at the Save Tara gig last september in Major Toms.

This was a series of gigs all happened on the same night which Paul Casey organised and now, now is the time to put on yr lippy and have a proper recording session Daithi, as strange things are afoot in the world of verse, as the ollamh zone is firmly manifesting during the incantation of the tips, the breaking of the marrow and imbas foronsai haunting in the blood and bone, steering through the mind, alone at midnight when the draoi day begins, all things come to s/he who waits and since 1992 for the new mob of satirical metaphysical messers of the heads, joy stealers wheeling a snowman away, cold the ice of extemporised flight, the wishes and kisses, jostling and jones, keeping up with mister Brown, marxist member with an order fo the british empire for services to her majesties race of déithe the druidic dictionary glosses as a superior elder rave, the tuatha de dannan are back in town, in the chippy of a NE seaport and do you know

It took all the strength I had
not to fall apart
kept trying hard to mend
the pieces of my broken heart
and I spent oh so many nights
just feeling sorry for myself
I used to cry
Now I hold my head up high
and you see me
somebody new
I'm not that chained up little person
still in love with you know who

so i just felt like dropping by
and expect you to be free
now I'm saving all my loving
for someone who's loving me

s/he of the sidhe and no
focail bána

love and peace