WAR by John Gurney

Current reading ‘In Parenthesis’ by David Jones is still a classic, written from the view of a soldier in the trenches of WWI.   He is still highly regarded as painter and poet on this, the autumn of the 100th year anniversary. I found, only a few days ago, this epic poem, written by John Gurney (1935-2000) which is over 16000 lines long and is titled ‘WAR’.  Briefly dipped into it follows warfare mostly war coverthrough the eyes of a pilot of WWI.  I can say no more except I hope to read it at some not too far  time.  It seems to have been a planned project of three epic tales but second (Kazet) and third (The Necessity of Heaven) seem not to have been published, maybe not completed, or even less…..   I have found little about J.G. except for the blurb of this book and that he was born in Luton and spent latter career at least as a lecturer at Bedford College. That he had a brother (snippet on web search but not yet re-found) and was in frequent contact with the Salzburg Review.  Also a regular contributor and prize winner with the National Poetry Competition in 1982  and early 1990s. and other poetry prizes.     war illust.jpgArtwork by Paul Peter Piech   in the book compliments the text starkly.  A black and white woodcut(?) at the start of each of the 24 ‘books’ of this epic.    Cover and one illus. here. I will investigate further.   other titles by John Gurney: Wheal Zion   1979,        An Average Revenge,      Coal,      Mr Eliot’s Summer Honeymoon,      Observing Dr. Freud  
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Shortlist, Costa Poetry Award 2017

Shortlist, 2017 Costa Poetry Award

Judges

Moniza Alvi    Poet

Kiran Millwood Hargrave     Author

Nicholas Wroe Guardian Writer and Editor

This (from below my italics) is from the poetry page of Costa, for the results of all shortlists click for link:   Costa Awards 2017 shortlist

Many other links you could choose as alternative, I would also offer the Guardian pages

The main question for me is which title/author  will I plump for reading as I have not read any of the books?  ‘All’  is not a useful answer as I have to start with one and the judges comments guarantee each one needs to be read.

So, its the debut collections first as the poets are new to me.  Next, is it the new take on ‘Nature’ (Useful Verses) to  ride on my long-term interest in said subject or the challenge of race and identity (Kumukanda)   which also ticks a large box despite my being ‘old, white and British’?  …… but it is ‘being an outsider/onlooker’ that marries into both, maybe all poetry……  so maybe for me the interest is also a challenge of  seeing and feeling through other peoples eyes what I cannot expect to really understand but would like to try.                      So Kumukanda, is the one I will   buy and review first

Kumukanda   

by Kayo Chingonyi     (Chatto & Windus)

Translating as ‘initiation’, kumukanda is the name given to the rites a young boy from the Luvale tribe must pass through before he is considered a man. Kayo Chingonyi’s debut explores this passage: between two worlds, ancestral and contemporary; between the living and the dead; between the gulf of who he is and how he is perceived. Underpinned by a love of music, language and literature, this debut collection is a powerful exploration of race, identity and masculinity, celebrating what it means to be British and not British, all at once.

Kayo Chingonyi was born in Zambia in 1987, and moved to the UK at the age of six. He is the author of two pamphlets, and a fellow of the Complete Works programme for diversity and quality in British Poetry. In 2012, he was awarded a Geoffrey Dearmer Prize, and was Associate Poet at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in 2015.

Judges: ‘Energetic, skilled, tender and bold – this is an outstanding collection by a major new talent.’

 

 

Inside the Wave     by Helen Dunmore (Bloodaxe Books)

To be alive is to be inside the wave, always travelling until it breaks and is gone. These poems are concerned with the borderline between the living and the dead – the underworld and the human living world – and the exquisitely intense being of both. They possess a spare, eloquent lyricism as they explore the bliss and anguish of the voyage. Helen Dunmore was a poet, novelist, short story and children’s writer. Her poetry books have been given the Poetry Book Society Choice and Recommendations and won several prizes including the Cardiff International Poetry Prize, the Alice Hunt Bartlett Award and the Signal Poetry Award.  Her poem ‘The Malarkey’ won the 2010 National Poetry Competition.  She published fifteen novels and three books of short stories – most recently, Birdcage Walk in 2017.  She died in June 2017.

Judges: ‘We were all stunned by these breathtaking poems.’

 

On Balance by Sinéad Morrissey (Carcanet)

Set against a backdrop of ecological and economic instability, Sinéad Morrissey’s sixth collection revisits some of the great feats of human engineering to reveal the states of balance and imbalance that have shaped our history. The poems also address gender inequality and our inharmonious relationship with the natural world. Sinéad Morrissey was born in 1972 and grew up in Belfast. She read English and German at Trinity College, Dublin, from which she took her PhD in 2003, and has published five collections including Parallax (2013) which won the T S Eliot Prize. She’s lived in Germany, Japan and New Zealand and lectured in Creative Writing at the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queen’s University in Belfast and now lives in Northumberland where she’s Head of the Creative Writing programme at Newcastle University. She’s also Belfast’s inaugural Poet Laureate. Judges: ‘This collection appropriately strikes a balance between technical mastery and range and depth of enquiry.’

 

Useful Verses by Richard Osmond (Picador)

Richard Osmond’s debut collection follows in the tradition of the best nature writing, being as much about the human world as the natural, the present as the past. Osmond, a professional forager, has a deep knowledge of flora and fauna as they appear in both natural and human history, as they are depicted in both folklore and herbal – but he views them through a wholly contemporary lens. Chamomile is discussed through quantum physics, ants through social media, wood sorrel through online gambling, and mugwort through a traffic cone. In each case, Osmond offers an arresting and new perspective, and makes that hidden world that lives and breathes beside us vividly part of our own. Richard Osmond was born in 1987. He works as a wild food forager, searching for plants, fruits and fungi among the forests and hedgerows of Hertfordshire and co-owns an award-winning wild food pub, The Verulam Arms, in St Albans. He received an Eric Gregory Award from the Society of Authors in 2017.

Judges: ‘A contemporary, agile and original take on the intersection of the natural and human worlds.’

Category winners announced 2nd Jan. 2018;  main winner announced 30th Jan. 2018.

 

John Clare: Nature, Criticism and History: Newly Published

John Clare: Nature, Criticism and History

by  Simon Kovesi         Published  4th Sept 2017

£66.99   hardback only

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

ISBN-13: 978-0230277878

  • Size: 8 x 1.8 x 21 cm

This book investigates what it is that makes John Clare’s poetic vision so unique, and asks how we use Clare for contemporary ends. It explores much of the criticism that has appeared in response to his life and work, and asks hard questions about the modes and motivations of critics and editors. Clare is increasingly regarded as having been an environmentalist long before the word appeared; this book investigates whether this ‘green’ rush to place him as a radical proto-ecologist does any disservice to his complex positions in relation to social class, work, agriculture, poverty and women. This book attempts to unlock Clare’s own theorisations and practices of what we might now call an ‘ecological consciousness’, and works out how his ‘ecocentric’ mode might relate to that of other Romantic poets. Finally, this book asks how we might treat Clare as our contemporary while still being attentive to the peculiarities of his unique historical circumstances

………………………………..

Chapters

  • John Clare and Place              Kövesi, Simon
  • Clare and Ecocentrism           Kövesi, Simon
  • Clare Making Text; Making Text of Clare                  Kövesi, Simon
  • Looking, Painting, Listing, Noting: Clare, Women and Nature        Kövesi, Simon
  • Conclusion: Clare as Our Contemporary; Clare as History                Kovesi, Simon

Simon Kövesi is Professor of English Literature, and Head of the Department of English and Modern Languages, at Oxford Brookes University, UK. 

 

 

Poetical Works of Henry Lawson

1867-1922

Born in a tent on Grenfell goldfields.  Father a Norse sailor turned goldfield digger and a Kentish mother of gypsy blood and tradition. He seems to have led a mostly nomadic life, crossing oceans as well as  working on farms and stations. Always writing. Short stories, masses of poetry and working as a jouranalist in Sydney until succumbing finally to alcaholism and almost destitution except for the support of  a boarding house keeper who was also a poet and had great admiration for Henry’s work.

 

A very brief outline of a man whose work I am reading now, having found  a re-issue of his 1933 edition by Angus & Robertson.

Briefly, his metre and rhyme seems punctilious, his subjects quite varied but mostly of the land- workers: Shearer, swagman, the woman who watched and waited for them and the political and class struggles of the day. Throughout  is the space in time as well as distance of the landscape whether on a farmstead or travelling through a township.  The characters are all real, unglossed and often lost.

The intro. mentions him coming out of the realms of  Wordsworth and Byron. To me Kipling and Tennyson are sometimes in step with his metre and style but the tru-ism of the introduction is that he is an Australian poet.

a sample:  not the best but one of the shorter poems.  Longer ones continue in similar strong patterns but a multitude of subjects  decide on feelings, of sadness, harshness of reality and hope.  :

Rain in the Mountains

The valley’s full of misty clouds,

Its tinted beauty drowning,

Tree-tops are veiled in fleecy shrouds,

And mountain fronts are frowning.

 

The mist is hanging like a pall

Above the granite ledges,

And many a silvery waterfall

Leaps o’er the valley edges.

 

The sky is of a leaden grey,

Save where the north looks surly,

The driven daylight speeds away,

And night comes o’er early.

 

Dear Love, the rain will pass full soon,

Far sooner than my sorrow,

But in a golden afternoon

The sun may set tomorrow.

 

Guy Butler books reach top of reading pile

Hurrah, just started reading  two by Laurie Lee: Selected  Poems  and  A Rose For Winter  (a travel book of his visit to Andalusia via Gibraltar published in 1955.  My how the world has changed it seems).

the better news is that next in line, as it were, I am happily discovering  ‘an auto biography from 1918 to 1935’   by Guy Butler: Karoo Morning  and immediately after that his 1989 publication: Tales From the Old Karoo.     Of these two which do I read first?    I suspect I ought to go with the former alone.  Trying to read both in parrallel is likely to be confusing for me. (If they were literally worlds apart it might be different but the latter is of the place and period of Guy Butler.)  There, decision made!  Date order reigns so Karoo Morning  is first.

And after those?  Well, Small Hands, it would seem.

I am also recommended to read some Keats.  Hmm, I ought; but then there are so many I could add to that ought-to list and frequently  such well-known names.   No doubt I will but there may be diggings in the boxes old poets seem to get consigned into.  Not forgetting new, to me at least,  poets that bounce out of their creative writing courses with ever increasing quality and complexity.

 

Mike Doyle: A Splinter of Glass

Mike Doyle:  A Splinter of Glass

I found this in a local Cambridge bookshop.   Now I am finding out a bit more about the author and his other writing.   Born in Birmingham, UK and moved to New Zealand after the Royal Navy then settled a second time in Canada; Victoria B.C..

The poems in this ‘early book’ are pretty interesting, would love to read more from later and recent work.

There is a review of his ‘Colleceted Poems’ and information in the Malahat Review 

I will have to stick with the one book I have as his most recent collection ( Collected Poems 1951-2009) seems impossible to find in the UK  (at least at an affordable price)  ah well, keep on searching!  I believe there are two later short collections published also.  A poet published in New Zealand and Canada but not Internationally is hard to find.   I think I might have to try harder!

Poetry by Jeffrey Wainwright and Ruth Padel’s 52 Ways of looking at a poem

Two books I have now lined up, should I read them both at the same time?  Or which one first?   I think its heads or tails time:

I have not checked out current availability of either.   I like Ruth Padel’s style of writing but was recommended to look at Jeffrey Wainright title by a Uni. tutor as useful  for students.   So, I had better get on with it.   More on their specifics  in later items.

 

The Basics:  poetry

Jeffrey Wainwrightthe basics  poetry  cover

£9.99      ppr        978 0415287647

Routledge

 

52 Ways of looking at a poemruth padel 52 ways cover

Ruth Padel

£12.99       ppr

978 070117318 0

Chatto & Windus