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Polly Jean as a Writer of Words

By Harriet Staff

Coldfront has its sights on The Guardian’s recent interview with PJ Harvey—the musician’s new album, Let England Shake, is being lauded as a masterpiece, both for its political relevance in the wake of civil war and upheaval, as well as UK student protests and general unrest; and the album’s pointed, robust lyricism, about which Harvey herself said:

“I certainly feel like I’m getting somewhere that I wanted to get to as a writer of words. I wanted to get better, I wanted to be more coherent, I wanted there to be a greater strength and depth emotionally, and all these things require work—to hone something, to get rid of any superfluous language. I’m inspired by the other great writers I go back to and read again and again, and think how did they do that?”

Harvey mentions Harold Pinter among her recent literary influences. “Pinter leaves me speechless. Just unbelievable. A poem like ‘American Football’ or ‘The Disappeared.’ TS Eliot of course. Ted Hughes. WB Yeats. James Joyce.”

Still, the new album can largely be seen as a uniting of her art and activism. Regarding her extensive research into the WWI Battle of Gallipoli, The Guardian says: “Sometimes, she admits, it was overwhelming, all that death. ‘I think as a creative artist it’s crucial to be open—to feel. You can’t do it with a closed heart. You almost have to hand over your soul to that action. And so there can be times when you can feel too full of the piece that you’re making.’”

Watch PJ Harvey’s video for her song “The Words That Maketh Murder”:


Posted in Uncategorized on Friday, May 6th, 2011 by Harriet Staff.