Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Berryman, Hill, And Porter

I am reading three books which I think should do me until around Christmas. They are:

The Dream Songs – John Berryman: 427 pages
Collected Poems – Geoffrey Hill (1984 edition): 207 pages
Collected Poems vol. 1 – Peter Porter (poems 1961-81): 335 pages

I mean, I have picked up a few other, mainly contemporary collections I’d really like to read e.g. Cocktails by DA Powell, Riding Pisces by Yang Lian, Arioflotga by Frank Kuppner, The Tethers by Carrie Etter, and Zero by Brian McCabe. Also, I plan to buy a few Salt books just published or soon to be e.g. Liz Gallagher, Tony Williams. I will read a few books for review. But Berryman, Hill and Porter are going to be my main diet for the rest of the year.

I’ve been reading a few of Peter Porter’s early 1961 poems. They are often highly compressed, and require quite a bit of concentration. A few seem infused with a kind of Larkin-esque melancholy, grey visions of a decaying England, and the melancholy somehow lacks impact. However, other poems are terrific and are packed with surprising and disturbing phrases and imagery. The pick of them so far is Conventions of Death with the stomping final stanza:

So give up thinking, work hard, buy a car,
Get married, keep a garden, bring up kids –
Answers to all the problems that there are,
Except the love that kills, the death that lives.

No comments: