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Cramming London with geniuses April 30, 2012: "I was all set to cram London with geniuses, when John Lehmann etc decided I ought to be restrained – evidently. So the festival could only be five foreigners, five Americans, five English. It was those five English I was trying to avoid." When Ted Hughes established London’s Poetry International in 1967, he was up against the mighty [...]
Into a stranger cavern April 30, 2012: Was Mendelssohn the first composer to be inspired by train travel? I’ve been working on a commission for the Liverpool Biennial involving Edge Hill, the oldest passenger station in the world. The journey from Liverpool’s main station, Lime Street, out to Edge Hill is only about four minutes long but it takes you through historical tunnels [...]
I am still I April 24, 2012: Because the I must be on intimate terms with itself in order to undo itself. Because the poem is the escape of the I, not an escape from the I. Because the I of the poem is not the first person but the person. Because the poem is the arising of the I, not an arising out of the I. Because the I arises.
I am not I April 18, 2012: The lyric self has never been quite what it seems as even those in on its early days knew. "I am not I," warned Sidney: "pitie the tale of me." Four hundred years later, do we? Or is our focus on process leading us to invest in the poet what we ought to invest in the poem? If we have exhausted the idea of a lyric self, might we return to what [...]
Rampant twig April 16, 2012: What about the poems we don’t want to remember? Sometimes a poem is badly made but sometimes it just offends our sensibilities. Aren’t those failures that haunt us useful lessons in the memorability of the dissonant, the ugly, the brash? Have they really failed if they haunt us? Perhaps the failure is more often ours than we care to [...]
Do you have to? April 9, 2012: We are half-way into the Easter weekend which here is four days long. It’s a holiday, and my difficulty is that I’ve never really seen the point of holidays. I was talking to another writer last week about what I would be doing, about the children coming and going, the concerts and the walks by the sea and she said "How lovely!" and then [...]
A Disorder of Wonder and Romance April 5, 2012: I have spent most of my life between Keats and Rimbaud. Keats and Fanny Brawne met next to the library I used as a child. Rimbaud slapped Verlaine with a fish near the pool where I learnt to swim. Now I live between Rosenberg and MacNeice and a stone’s throw from the home of Edmund Gosse, a poet who knew he wasn’t really a poet but who wrote [...]
A wall can talk to us April 18, 2011: I’m moving house tomorrow and while it’s a happy occasion, it has happened very fast. I'm leaving the square mile in which I was born and where I've lived for thirty of my years. The other day I was walking home (a word that’s become underlined and italicised, quotation- and question-marked in both thought and speech) pondering the [...]
Weights and Measures April 13, 2011: A wall near a poetry translation workshop I recently attended in Fes. Catalan, Slovenian, Swiss, Arabic, French. We passed our days like tailors or engineers, in a haze of geometric abstraction.
The Concise Dictionary of Dress April 27, 2010: BRASH Confident; mistakable. CREASED The line designed by use. PRETENTIOUS Something pretending to be something that it is. REVEALING The performance of the unsustainable moment. SHARP Addressed. Years ago, I was given a residency in the kind of place that knows how to throw a party. They gave one for me, and invited, [...]