Recent Reading (up-dated)

Click here for an archive of previous postings on Recent Reading.

Up-dated October/November 2017

852711[1]

With the marking of the centenary of the Russian Revolution, I took down from my shelves Anna of All the Russias, Elaine Feinstein’s biography of Anna Akhmatova. All the facts are there without the life of this extraordinary woman ever quite coming alive, though the searching out and cooking of a single potato for a visitor during the siege of Leningrad stays in my mind.

Somewhere second hand, I picked up Peter Burke’s Montaigne in OUP’s Past Master series. He does a good job of assessing this most uncategorizable of writers who characteristically invented the idea of the essay, or essais – not to declare the truth but to look for it. He was “weary of religion / and the fickle court”, as Adam Thorpe put it in his 1990 poem ‘Meeting Montaigne’, and would always ask ‘Que sais-je?’

613VSYQCo7L._AC_US218_[1]

 

In October I read in London with Caroline Maldonado and came away with her collection of poems called What They Say in Avenale (Indigo Dreams). She lives partly in Le Marche region of Italy and these poems record the people, their work, the weather and wild life of that beautiful place.

Few recent books are as economical and delicately allusive as Matthew Stewart’s debut, The Knives of Villalejo, from Eyewear Publishing. His two preoccupations are family (a West Sussex childhood, ageing parents, a child) and life as a resident in Spain. The former is about the loss of communication; the latter more celebratory (like Maldonado) with the rituals of food and wine featuring prominently.

41m39nukHyL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_[1]

The Hippocrates Book of the Heart is a unique anthology of poems from the likes of Alvi, Shuttle, Satyamurti, O’Brien, Harsent, Greening and Gross as well as a section of prose writing by medical professionals. I bought a copy to give to my daughter whose in her third year studying medicine!

IMG_0287

 

Up-dated August /September 2017

download

I’d hoped that Nick Makoha’s Kingdom of Gravity would win the Forward First collection prize in September. I thought his ability to write about contemporary events a rare talent. Makoha will be important for UK poetry for some while.

download

William Griffin’s hyper-episodic biography of C.S. Lewis, The Authentic Voice has a novel-like attention to memorable detail. Simultaneously troubling and interesting, Lewis argued for Christians as a new step in evolution because they have abandoned their own personalities and allowed God to inhabit them. I blogged in more detail on Lewis here.

51RM5C9J25L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

Shamefully, having referred to the text in teaching for years, I eventually got round to reading Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther. It kept reminding me of Shelley’s Frankenstein – though of course the influence is the other way. Shame about the gobbets of Ossian later on.

download

Am teaching the always mysteriously wonderful poems of Robert Frost over the coming months and consequently blogging about him on occasions. For example . . .

download

I found Eric Langley’s Forward-listed Raking Light a challenge, not always of the right sort and it yielded up some thoughts about poems and explanatory notes.

 

 

2 thoughts on “Recent Reading (up-dated)

  1. Great postings!
    I admit when I first read Gaudete I found the looser, more relaxed poetry a great relief after the increasingly clotted, hysterical work: Cave Birds in particular.
    I have never taken to his Ovid.
    The poetry-and-photos concept was wonderful; I think River my most treasured book.

    Like

    • I remember I was given River as a leaving present from my first teaching practice school back in the early 1980s, a school in Abingdon where I’m sure I had been pretty hopeless and naive. It was a lovely and appropriate thought though.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s