Thursday, April 17, 2008

Full Volume and the National Gallery

I’m hoping to get to the Scottish Poetry Library at 7pm this evening where Robert Crawford will be reading and talking about his work. His new collection, Full Volume, looks great from what I’ve seen of it (as yet, I’ve only read a few poems). It certainly received an extremely warm review from Sean O’Brien in The Guardian.

Another review I read, in The Scotsman (halfway down the page), suggested that the collection lacked “personal feeling” and was more a “riot of cleverness”. I really doubt that (even at a casual glance, the collection displays deep concern for the ecological balance of the world and for personal beliefs), but I’ve never been one to feel that a poem is simply a repository for personal emotions in any case. What’s so terrible about “cleverness”, word gymnastics, and fire-cracking sonic display in poetry? There is too much casual acceptance of poetry which taps into personal emotion with flat diction, which lacks flair and imagination when it comes to word-choice and syntax, and which pays little attention to the subtleties of sound and rhythm.

I think Robert Crawford is one of the best writers in the UK at the moment and I’m very much looking forward to hearing him read.

(nice to see HappenStance author, Cliff Ashby, get an excellent review in that same Scotsman round-up, mind you. Because I disagree with a reviewer over one review doesn't mean that I won't feel pleased at another, even on the same page!)

The slight catch in all this is that I’ll be at the readings for the Scottish National Galleries Competition beforehand, and will read my poem. These start at 5.30pm, and there’s a reception afterwards. I’ll have to sprint up to the SPL to get there on time. Maybe I'll sneak in late.

3 comments:

Colin Will said...

I entirely agree with you about Robert's poetry. He is clever and erudite - but why disguise it? He's as committed and concerned with issues as any of us, and his poetry shows it.
Colin

Crafty Green Poet said...

There is too much casual acceptance of poetry which taps into personal emotion with flat diction, which lacks flair and imagination when it comes to word-choice and syntax, and which pays little attention to the subtleties of sound and rhythm. You sum up so well what's wrong with too much modern poetry in that phrase. Well said!

Cailleach said...

This is a great post that has me intrigued about Robert Crawford's work. I wish you best of luck tomorrow with the reading and slipping surreptitiously into Crawford's one too ;)