Tuesday, February 28, 2006

More on Tom Raworth

With reference to Tom Raworth in the post two below, I’ve found a better link to the All Fours poem I discuss, in which Raworth reads the poem. He does read it slightly differently from what I imagined, and the speed at which he reads some of the lines surprised me.

I also found another two articles on Raworth. One in Stride, which contains 23 reasons to read Raworth, basically 23 short quotes from his poems. These are quite good, I think. For example:

she came in laughing his
shit's blue and red today those
wax crayons he ate last night
(from 'Morning')


trust marginal thoughts
some like shoes will fit
(from 'How Can You Throw it all Away on This Ragtime')


the albatross drawer
this is where we keep the albatrosses
('Taxonomy', entire)

and finally:

'a semiotic gorilla named boko
was thought by its keeper quite loco
when it claimed that the farthes
it released in the barthes
clearly signified "two cups of cocoa" '
(from 'Catacoustics')

These reveals a playful wit that I didn’t detect in All Fours. Perhaps I’ve chosen the wrong poem to analyse. The cynic in me protests that it shouldn’t be hard to come out with 23 quotable quips in a career as long as Raworth’s, and with 600 pages of a Collected Poems to choose from. But maybe there’s a lot of good stuff in those 600 pages.

Also, a longer article at http://epc.buffalo.edu/authors/perloff/articles/raworth.pdf (you'll have to cut and paste it into your surf bar if you want to read it. I tried a hyperlink but couldn't get it to work), which analyses a couple of Raworth pieces. I felt that the reviewer, Marjorie Perloff, read too much into the first poem, These Are Not Catastrophes I went out of my Way to Look For, but I guess (post-) modernist poets invite more imaginative participation on the part of the reader to provide meaning than in traditional poetry. Some of her observations were thought-provoking, but not all were convincing. I found it hard to get interested in the discussion of Ace.


Luke said...

Hi Rob,

Enjoying the blog and your work. And kudos for the sincere effort to appreciate Raworth. Speaking as someone who dislikes hardcore experimentalism (such as J.H. Prynne's work) - I still count Tom Raworth among my favourite contemporary poets. I started reading him a few years ago with his appearance in the Penguin Modern Poets series (no. 19, 1973) where he appears alongside John Ashbery and Lee Harwood (worth picking up in a second-hand bookshop). His early work is a little less opaque.

There's a lot to savour in his Collected Poems - and he's always been one of the poets (along with Roy Fisher, Harwood, Ashbery and so on) who has prevented me from getting fed up with postmodern / high-modernist stuff altogether. He combines the process/experiment with genuine content.

Anyway, enough blathering. Keep up the good work.

Rob Mackenzie said...

Thanks Luke. I don't know when you made your comment. I'm slow on investigating my archives, so sorry if it's been weeks.

I'll see what I can pick up of Raworth's. I don't really know Lee Harwood's work either. I've seen it but haven't investigated it.

I like your comment on Raworth:

"He combines the process/experiment with genuine content."

That's also what I enjoy about Ashbery at his best.