Sunday, October 07, 2007

Reviews - Luke Kennard (The Chimaera) and John Ash (Orbis)

The first issue of The Chimaera is now up and among the many articles and poems, you can find my review of The Harbour Beyond the Movie by Luke Kennard.

If the word ‘review’ instantly puts you off reading further, read the book instead. It’s great stuff.

If any of you have the new issue of print magazine, Orbis, you’ll find my review of John Ash’s The Parthian Stations, as well as poems by Andrew Shields and Tony Williams.

16 comments:

Andrew Shields said...

Thanks for the pitch!

Colin Will said...

Sally Cook's essay in Chimaera hits my nail on the head. Brilliant. There's a lot of excellent material in this issue.

The SPL doesn't appear to take Orbis, so I can't easily check it out.

Rob said...

Cheers, Andrew. And thanks for mentioning me on your blog too.

Did you really like that Sally Cook essay, Colin? I couldn't disagree with her more! I'd much prefer to read Wallace Stevens or Kenneth Koch to the third-rate, derivative poets she mentions in a positive light. I agree that we should resist lowest-common-denominator consensus, but the best modernist poets are the best mainly because they also resisted that, and then formed their own unique, disturbing and energising vision.

And she dared to dismiss the New York School. Grrrrrr.

Rob said...

It's strange the SPL don't take Orbis, as it's been a well-regarded mag for many years.

They publish good quality poems. I approached them about reviewing because I was impressed by reviews they had published.

Colin Will said...

Well I cut my teeth on San Francisco (esp Rexroth & Everson), the Beats (Corso and Snyder my favourites) and Black Mountain (Creeley, Duncan, Levertov & back to Olson), so I can't go along with that part of her thesis, but I find the art scene now to be trivial and shallow. The whole business of 'conceptual art' is absurd and meaningless, ultimately worthy of five minute's attention and then ... move on to something else. Maybe I need to write an essay to get my thoughts in order.

Ed Parsons said...

Thanks for the mention, Rob - hadn't spotted your review when I posted, or I'd have preturned the favour! The Parthian Stations sounds good - sigh - more books to get...
Tony

Matt Merritt said...

Couldn't agree more about the Luke Kennard book, Rob. I love it.
I'll have to get hold of Orbis to read this Sally Cook essay. I'm constantly disheartened by the continuing tendency by some reviewers to set up a 'mainstream' vs ' innovative' opposition, when most readers, I suspect, take the best from both camps.

Rob said...

Matt, the Sally Cook essay is in The Chimaera - you can get to it from my link. She is clearly a 'New Formalist,' a particularly closed variety. It's a weird subculture of people who appear to have no idea of how free verse works.

Matt Merritt said...

Thanks Rob. Monday morning mist still in my eyes, I hadn't read it properly.
Now I've had a look at her article, I'm absolutely spitting! She might well have a point about conceptual art, as I know nothing about it, but her poetry argument sounds like nonsense, and is backed up with next to no examples (as you say, those she's chosen do her cause more harm than good).
I think what annoys me most is the way she seems to think that the modernists hold all the power and influence in poetry world. If anything, I'd have said it's more the other way, but as I said earlier, I get the impression that most readers and most poets are happy to have a foot in both camps.
Must buy some John Ash, though. I've only ever read individual poems of his, and have always liked them a lot.

Cailleach said...

Hey Rob, just wondering if your spam filter is knocking out replies to you... replied Sat. morning... or is it just me :S

Rob said...

You get that a lot, Matt - people thinking that modernism, in its entirety, is all crap. What was it Matt Johnson sang? Something like, "All the things that we cannot understand, we set up to worship or to damn." That's not right, but it's the gist of it. The same happens the other way round of course, when people say that metre, traditional form and end-rhyme are no longer tools worth using in contemporary poetry.

Andrew Shields said...

There's also William Oxley's review of C. D. Wright in the issue of "Orbis". I don't particularly like Wright, either, but as a reviewer of her work I would at least try to do more justice to whatever her project might be, rather than just dismiss the project because it is so different than mine.

Rob said...

Of course, this is all good for the magazines in question. Anything that gets people talking about them and reading them and sending feedback... A spot of controversy is useful for poetry mags.

The real controversy at The Chimaera is their publication of a poet well known for his neo-fascist views (although the work published in The Chimaera exhibits no trace of these views). A lot of people are getting hot and bothered about it though, and I can understand why. I'm still not sure what I think on the issue. The poet in question isn't just 'right-wing' but genuinely neo-fascist and anti-semitic. But should an editor take such things into account if there's no evidence of politics in the poem?

Rob said...

The other aspect to this is that if editors were to draw up a list of politically black-listed authors, where would it all end? Who should be on and who shouldn't? Think McCarthy-ism.

Ben Wilkinson said...

On a slightly unrelated note to the interesting discussions aking place here - did you spot a poem of mine in the Orbis issue, Rob? I'm just curious as I sent some stuff off ages ago, and Carol (ed) said she'd put one of them on the shortlist. It's a shame the magazine doens't have its own website really - makes checking what's in the latest issue and keeping informed a bit difficult without a subscription.

Matt Merritt said...

I think it's more of an issue if the mag in question is subsidised with taxpayers' money, or in some other way connected to a public body.
If not, I suppose it's entirely up to the editor.