Sunday, 7 January 2007

Bordering on the absurd

The other day, I was browsing round Borders in Leicester. Which is to say, I stood reading through the various poetry mags, and then flicking through the poetry book section, without the slightest intention of buying anything, because it's just after Christmas and I'm totally skint.
I do, I should hasten to add, normally do my best to support poetry mags. Mostly it's because a lot of them contain a lot of great material that might not otherwise ever be seen, plus it's pretty hypocritical to submit to them but never buy them. They are pretty expensive though, and that's where Borders has come in handy, because it stocks Poetry Review, PN Review, The North, The Rialto, Dream Catcher, Poetry Wales, Poetry London and maybe one or two others. This means I can buy individual copies of them as and when they take my fancy, and then maybe subscribe to a couple more.
Anyway, the current issue of The Rialto is a good one. For a start, there's a poem by Bob Cooper. I post to The Works online poetry group for discussion and criticism of poems (although I haven't actually done anything for quite a while now), and Bob has always been a very perceptive and constructive critic. Even more importantly, he's a really excellent poet. I've got one of his Smith Doorstop chapbooks, Pinocchio's Long Neb, and it's great, sort of like the New York School exiled to the banks of the Tyne.
There's also an interview with Peter Sansom about his new book, of which I've said enough already. Interesting, though, that he also considers it his best by far, and that he talks a lot about the formative influence on him of Stanley Cook. Now I've got Cook's Collected, Woods Beyond A Cornfield, and like most of it a lot, especially the long title poem and the sequences Class Photograph and Form Photograph. I can heartily recommend him, but it hadn't struck me until reading the piece in The Rialto just how much his poetry recalls John Clare at times. So I'm going back to him for yet another re-read.
Finally, Borders had a big display of the New Faber Book Of Love Poetry, edited by James Fenton. I have to admit I'm not a big fan of his anyway (I quite like some of the early stuff, but that's it), but I was a bit surprised to see that he's got six of his own poems in there. Now I certainly don't think editors of anthologies should coyly ignore themselves when they clearly warrant inclusion, but this seems a bit like overdoing it to me. Reading the poems in question only hardened that opinion, I'm afraid.
On the other hand, he does give Michael Drayton five sonnets, including, of course, "Since There's No Help".

No comments: