Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Poetry at the.., and Three Books

It’s been a fairly busy few days with a few more to come, but I am at least reasonably on top of things. Poetry at the...GRV was excellent on Sunday evening. All the readers showed why they are seen as intriguing, distinctive voices. To people I’ve heard suggesting that too many contemporary poets sound similar to one another – well, you should have been there on Sunday evening to hear Eleanor Rees, Martin MacIntyre and Michael Pedersen. They are carving out their own territory and it was exciting to hear living proof of that on Sunday evening.

I’ve been reading three books simultaneously, all with a German connection:

Last night, I finished one, Cursing Bagels (can’t believe that £99 second-hand price-tag. I got mine for £3.50 about a week ago!) by Alfred Brendel. Brendel is a world-famous pianist. His poems have a light touch but they are also surprising in a similar way to those of Charles Simic. And the lightness is always in tension with darkness...

Then there’s Angina Days by Gunter Eich (translated by Michael Hofmann). The blurb says, “Eich was rivalled only by Paul Celan as the leading poet in the generation after Gottfried Benn and Bertolt Brecht.” It’s certainly been an interesting read and the further into the book I go the more interesting it seems to get.

And finally, James Sheard’s Dammtor arrived in the post. The poems may be made in Keele, England, but they are distinctly European. I've only read the first four poems, so far, and those have certainly whetted my appetite for the rest. The good news for the people of Edinburgh (whether they yet know it as good news or not) is that Jim will be reading for Poetry at the...GRV on Sunday 10th October, as a special guest poet – part of a collaboration with Gutter magazine.

All three collections share dark humour and twisted imagination and aren’t afraid to tackle big themes, even if they each do so in radically different ways. I’ll try to say more soon.

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