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BRITISH-IRISH-POETS  1998

BRITISH-IRISH-POETS 1998

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Subject:

Re: Hughes does America, & anthologies

From:

Ira Lightman <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Ira Lightman <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 28 Jan 1998 19:32:42 BST

Content-Type:

TEXT/PLAIN

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

TEXT/PLAIN (91 lines)


I think Lawrence is right to pick Douglas up on
using some strong, hurtful language about Out of
Everywhere. But I do think it's a book that's a
marker of "our" "community" and its own involvement
in falling out with the Poetry Society: namely,
over different takes on the self-evident. 
	Out of Everywhere, to me, is a great
magazine number of recent work by poets known to
its editor, and to many of its readers, including
me; it isn't, in my opinion, so good as an
anthology, esp. since no anthology like of it
of poets in it exists. It doesn't have 
introductory work, it doesn't have representative
work; when I think of a good *anthology* of that
sort, of Language Writing, by men and women, I 
think of In The American Tree. I think Conductors
of Chaos has similar flaws *as an anthology* to
O o E (*I* own both books, and *like* them, but I
knew the poets already).
	As to Hughes' book, it's hard for me to
avoid being as dismissive as Douglas about O o E.
Birthday Letters has been hyped much as Monica
thingy in the Clinton case, by report of the
content, in my opinion. I think the actual work
is really lacking any sense of Hughes' agency,
in any way, in his wife's pain; his is the love
that did its best with her pre-existent pain?
A little, yes, and by the evidence of her work
too. But Hughes in BL is really copping out, I
think, and with no room *at all* for looking at
any dark complicity, any sin, any badness on his
part, even if "only" youthful (and there is
nothing in the book that shows his constructed
youthfulness being a pre-existent pain, something
that could have been avoided, something he might
have dedicated his life to remedying, in himself
and others, over this tragic loss. Instead, his
masculinity is simply naturalised and the book
is mostly reminiscences of a young youthful mad
bad dangerous etc love affair, with which people
can identify in plaintive faux-naif passively
rapturous banalities. The energy and the demons
(to think of Barry MacSweeney) that are the best
of Hughes' flawed work are much better in the
non-personal public work like Rain Charm for
the Duchy; the Laureateship produced the little
work of his I like, taking on the public poem
and making it dark and sinister. When Hughes
does "private" work, of the self in rapture,
of anecdote, it is by contrast bright and clean,
and easily resolved, not half so disturbing
as Rain Charm, or the mass acceptance of this
new, pernicious book.

Ira 

P.S. The Times, who seem to care so much for
this *literary* event of the decade, couldn't
proof forty lines of verse last Wednesday and
printed the line "WE WERE GONG TO BE MARRIED"
Gong! By far the best line in the work (it's
"going" in the Faber book), because its
linguistic energy even as a joke disturbs the
pious (but not repenting) tone.


On Tue, 27 Jan 98 14:54:12 GMT Douglas Clark wrote:

> From: Douglas Clark <[log in to unmask]>
> Date: Tue, 27 Jan 98 14:54:12 GMT
> Subject: Re: Hughes does America
> 
> Lawrence asks me to pick some poets out of `out of 
everywhere'. Here goes:
> 
> Lyn Hejinian
> Rosmarie Waldrop
> Lisa Robertson
> Barbara Guest
> 
> and that's about it. E&OE. Now back to re-reading the Ted 
Hughes.
> My mainstream instincts bear out.





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