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A Perversion

Christopher Reid

10 January 1991
... In the Proceedings of the Royal Institute of Anthropophagy (last year’s Spring number, page 132), there is a most unusual instance recorded of a man and woman who conspired to eat each other – and would have done so, had not the laws of nature prevented it. I heartily agree with the writer of the article who denounces the whole affair as a ‘flagrant travesty’, a ‘perversion of the established rites’ and a ‘half-baked stunt ...

Cambridgeport Christmas

Christopher Reid

3 September 1981
... Ice aches and eases underfoot: a luscious pleasure for the solitary walker, where morning flings its shadows, extravagant and pat, across playground and parking-lot. Cars are stunned by a Yuletide smother-love. Bushes weigh their meted dollops, and the boxy clapboard churches are drenched and cleansed by a piquant light from the east. One for every block, they favour a dapper domestic garrison air ...

A Disaffected Old Man

Christopher Reid

6 March 1980
... The spider in her hanging theatre; the patient villainy of cats: the afternoon foretells disaster, now we have time to sit and watch. Outdoors, lulled by the sun, I berce the sticky brandy in my glass and contemplate the apple-tree, that writhes like a family history. My grandchildren are playing cricket with a beachball and tennis-racket. My ancient wife sits on my left ...

Flies

Christopher Reid

24 May 2001
... After Machado Dear common flies, ubiquitous and greedy, how well you conjure up those times that have gone. Old flies guzzling like bees in April, old flies launching raids on my new-born head. Flies of my early homebound boredoms, those summer afternoons when I first learned to dream. And in the hated classroom, flies that whizzed past as we hit out at them for love of their flight – flying being everything – and that buzzed against the windowpanes on autumn days … Flies for all seasons: for infancy and puberty, for my gilded youth, for this, my second childhood of innocence and unbelief, for now and for ever … Common flies, you’re too promiscuous to have found an adequate singer: I know how you’ve dallied on marvellous toys, on the covers of books, on love letters, on the unblinking eyelids of corpses ...

Charnel

Christopher Reid

19 June 1980
... God’s clownish, tumbling bells bang out their Sunday-morning scales with rabble-rousing eloquence. But what of the sad, cramped hells, we know lie hidden hereabouts? Minded by corpulent nymphets with wings and frowns, in reticence they guard their deeply-embedded doubts. A mawkish exercise, but one that everyone enjoys – to step about this cluttered suburb like a daytime ghost ...

Two Poems

Christopher Reid

18 March 1982
... Kawai’s Trilby Cold comforts of a hotel room: the air-conditioning and fridge join forces for a chummy hum, barbershop-style. Poised on the edge of bed, I think how far I’ve come. Two weeks ago we kissed goodbye. Now in a towerblock hotel in a strange land, I inventory the trappings of my pilgrim cell: bath, holy scriptures, a TV. Outside my window, a huge sign flushes, then cancels – Op and Pop apotheosised! Brisk neon routines jolly the cityscape, like the desk-toys of businessmen ...

Bollockshire

Christopher Reid

18 October 2001
... You’ve zoomed through it often enough on the long grind north, the grim dash south –    why not take a break?    Slip off the motorway at any one of ten tangled junctions and poke your nose, without compunction,    into the unknown.    Get systematically lost. At the first absence of a signpost, opt for the least promising lane,    or cut into the truck traffic    along some plain, perimeter-fence-lined stretch of blacktop heading nowhere obvious ...

Ringmaster

John Redmond

28 November 1996
Expanded Universes 
by Christopher Reid.
Faber, 55 pp., £6.99, September 1996, 9780571179244
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... was shortlived, and as a descriptive term, misleading. Largely the creation of Craig Raine and Christopher Reid, the movement was characterised by, and remembered for, unusual similes and exotic descriptions. Its name derived from the title poem of Raine’s second collection, A Martian Sends a Postcard Home (1979), in which the Martian, rather like ...

Two Poems

Christopher Reid

1 September 2005
... to stop, or enter the negative space of the minus numbers – and he’s not yet ready to play the Christopher Columbus of black-hole exploration. Top is fine, thanks. Divinely appointed to the highest ranks, however, and the Muse’s most trusted amanuensis, he knows to his personal cost that eminence is no doddle. With T for talent engraved on his ...
16 September 1982
Pea Soup 
by Christopher Reid.
Oxford, 65 pp., £4.50, September 1982, 0 19 211952 4
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... itself, its own message as a great deal of medium. In the hands of brilliant performers such as Christopher Reid, John Fuller or Craig Raine, the results can be extremely variegated and highly satisfying. It is of course misleading to put such names together – they are as different from each other as from any other poets writing today – and yet ...

Pioneers

Christopher Reid

3 September 1981
Some Americans: A Personal Record 
by Charles Tomlinson.
California, 134 pp., £6.50, June 1981, 0 520 04037 6
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... It is strange,’ Charles Tomlinson writes, ‘to have met the innovators of one’s time only when age had overtaken them.’ The innovators to whom he refers are those American poets – Ezra Pound, Marianne Moore, William Carlos Williams and others – whose work and moral example have been of importance to his own growth as a writer. The sentence quoted above, with its tinge of elegy and irony, occurs in the fourth and final chapter of Tomlinson’s new, brief book of memoirs, Some Americans, and it follows an account of the author’s first meeting and handshake (‘cold to the touch’) with Ezra Pound ...

Consequences

Christopher Reid

15 May 1980
Renga 
by Octavio Paz, Jacques Roubaud, Edoardo Sanguineti and Charles Tomlinson.
Penguin, 95 pp., £1.95, November 1979, 0 14 042268 4
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Kites in Spring 
by John Hewitt.
Blackstaff, 63 pp., £2.95, February 1980, 0 85640 206 0
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The Island Normal 
by Brian Jones.
Carcanet, 91 pp., £2.95, February 1980, 9780856353406
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New Poetry 5 
edited by Peter Redgrove and Jon Silkin.
Hutchinson, 163 pp., £4.95, November 1979, 0 09 139570 4
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... The Parisian Surrealists appear to have taken their games-playing very seriously. Ritual imitations of the creative act – involving the practice of automatic writing, a deep faith in the value of mere accident, and the contrivance of jokey juxtapositions – formed a vital part of their programme. One favourite exercise was called le cadavre exquis ...

Memres of Alfred Stoker

Christopher Reid

7 August 1986
... firs born X mas day Yer 1885 in the same burer Waping pa a way Ma not being by Trade merchent Sea man in forn parts: all so a precher on Land i sow him Latter 4 of 9 not all Livig a hard Thing Ma sad: mirs Pale a mid Wife in the back room bed rom Nor wod she got Thurgh when a ANGEL apperd over the JESUS pichire which i got after it Savd my Life. * so i name Gabriel which you did not no why shod you onlie its Secd Alfred Gabriel Joseph Stoker Like that ...
3 March 1983
Nothing Sacred: Selected Writings 
by Angela Carter.
Virago, 181 pp., £3.50, October 1982, 0 86068 269 2
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... fantasy is current at the moment. In ‘A Whole School of Bourgeois Primitives’, for example, Christopher Reid designs another version of England caught in a moment of buzzy stasis: Our lawn in stripes, the cat’s pyjamas, rain on a sultry afternoon and the drenching, mnemonic smell this brings us surging out of the heart of the garden: these ...

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