Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Weekend reading

Saturday’s Guardian review was the best in a long while, I thought. Partly because there was plenty of poetry-related material, although the long article on Carson McCullers was probably my favourite piece, having long been a fan of Ballad of the Sad Café and The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter.

This piece from Sean O’Brien was thought-provoking – it has certainly sparked debate at the Poets On Fire forum. I think the main thrust of his argument is pretty much fair enough, but I do wonder about that intro.

Elsewhere Nicholas Lezard chose Simon Armitage’s version of Sir Gawain And The Green Knight as his paperback choice. I suppose it feels less essential to me at the moment because I’ve already got three versions – by Tolkien, O’Donoghue and someone else whose name escapes me at the moment – but I’ll get round to buying it eventually, after a glowing recommendation like that.

There was a mini-review of the fine magazine The Dark Horse, which I notice features work from Irish poet Tom Duddy. His HappenStance chapbook is well worth £3 of anyone's money.

And last, but certainly not least, there was this fine review of Alison Brackenbury's new Carcanet collection, Singing In The Dark. I'd probably agree that the Nick Drake poems lack some of the tautness that characterises the rest of the book, but it's good to see a review that makes constructive criticisms, and it's a book that I'd recommend very highly.


Plinius said...

I read the Armitage 'Gawain' after having read the O'Donoghue and I preferred the latter. As Christopher Ricks says in a recent New York Review, Armitage's attempt to reproduce the original's alliteration is impressive, but there are a few too many distracting bits of slang and anachronistic vocabulary.

Matt Merritt said...

Yes, I heard him read one or two extracts last autumn, and wondered about that. I suspect I might prefer a more traditional approach. But it will be fun making the comparison.