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Going Electric

Patrick McGuinness: J.H. Prynne

7 September 2000
Poems 
by J.H. Prynne.
Bloodaxe/Folio/Fremantle Arts Centre, 440 pp., £25, March 2000, 1 85224 491 7
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Pearls that Were 
by J.H. Prynne.
Equipage, 28 pp., £4, March 1999, 1 900968 95 9
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Triodes 
by J.H. Prynne.
Barque, 42 pp., £4, December 1999, 9781903488010
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Other: British and Irish Poetry since 1970 
edited by Richard Caddel and Peter Quartermain.
Wesleyan, 280 pp., $45, March 1999, 0 8195 2241 4
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... of his own poems – aftermaths of stellar catastrophes, meteors sitting impassively in their craters, enigmatic wreckage from some temporal or spatial elsewhere. But it would also do for J.H.Prynne’s poems, which contain lines like these, in ‘Star Damage at Home’, from the 1969 collection The White Stones:                               ... That some star not ...

Two Poems

Douglas Oliver

7 May 1998
... poetry from. Everyone hurries across the piazza; there’s push-chair after push-chair, new growth, and a man spits dangerously over the head of the baby he’s wheeling. Money in Sunshine For J.H.Prynne Jeremy, marvellously tight in your word orders, your lines never run on endlessly like this huge rectangular high-riser; though, if the sky’s blue, it sharpens into a classic. A pigeon flights ...

Smirk Host Panegyric

Robert Potts: J.H. Prynne

1 June 2016
Poems 
by J.H. Prynne.
Bloodaxe, 688 pp., £25, April 2015, 978 1 78037 154 2
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... It is the fate​ of some artists,’ John Ashbery once remarked, ‘and perhaps the best ones, to pass from unacceptability to acceptance without an intervening period of appreciation.’ For a long time – more than forty years in fact ...
20 October 1994
Frank Zappa: The Negative Dialectics of Poodle Play 
by Ben Watson.
Quartet, 597 pp., £25, May 1994, 0 7043 7066 2
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Her Weasels Wild Returning 
by J.H. Prynne.
Equipage, 12 pp., £2, May 1994
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... life in the Western States, In Milton Lumky Territory and Humpty Dumpty in Oakland. The keenest tribute to Woolf I had come across on this side of the pond (a response to Fade Out) was by J.H.Prynne – to whom Frank Zappa is dedicated and who, according to the author blurb, supervised Watson at Gonville and Caius. (Mr Prynne, I’m told, doesn’t have much use for fiction: Patrick White ...

Elective Outsiders

Jeremy Harding

3 July 1997
Conductors of Chaos: A Poetry Anthology 
edited by Iain Sinclair.
Picador, 488 pp., £9.99, June 1996, 0 330 33135 3
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Nearly Too Much: The Poetry of J.H.​ Prynne 
by N.H. Reeve and Richard Kerridge.
Liverpool, 196 pp., £25, April 1996, 0 85323 840 5
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Carl Rakosi: Poems 1923-41 
edited by Andrew Crozier.
Sun & Moon, 209 pp., $12.99, August 1995, 1 55713 185 6
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The Objectivists 
edited by Andrew McAllister.
Bloodaxe, 156 pp., £8.95, May 1996, 1 85224 341 4
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... The voices here,’ says Sinclair in the Introduction, ‘are the ones who have been locked away, those who rather enjoy it.’ Twenty-five, thirty years after the best of them began to publish – John James, Chris Torrance, Lee Harwood, Andrew Crozier, Peter Riley, J.H.Prynne, Michael Haslam, Douglas Oliver, Barry MacSweeney, Denise Riley – they must nonetheless wonder, from time to time ...

Prynne’s Principia

Elizabeth Cook

16 September 1982
Poems 
by J.H. Prynne.
Agneau 2, 320 pp., £12, May 1982, 0 907954 00 6
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... and the conversions, of power are experienced within the poem. The conversions – of the instinctual into the economic, for example – with which power operates, obscure as they seem to simplify. Prynne’s delight in disorder is not an aesthetic caprice but is motivated by a rigorous attention to particularity: 1. Steroid metaphrast 2. Hyper-bonding of the insect 3. 6% memory, etc any other ...

On Nicholas Moore

Peter Howarth: Nicholas Moore

23 September 2015
... from a variety of increasingly improbable authors and sources, all in the same green ink: W.H. Laudanum, Kenelme Sexnoth Pope, H.N. (Helga Nevvadotoomuch, c/o Lord Godmanchester (Gumster), The John Peelcroft Hadmanchester Podgoets, Night Slide Clubb, P.O. Box 1AA, BBC-wise, W.1, and others. The translations were just as elastic as these cartoon-rubber composites. In the Robert Lowell version ...

Fit and Few

Donald Davie

3 May 1984
The Making of the Reader: Language and Subjectivity in Modern American, English and Irish Poetry 
by David Trotter.
Macmillan, 272 pp., £20, March 1984, 0 333 30632 5
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... himself. His identity is political: not just ‘the Left’, but that part of the Left that knows about riding-masters, and therefore is afflicted by rentier-guilt. (‘Recurrent as malaria,’ John Lehmann wrote in 1955, ‘a bout of rentier-guilt laid me low.’) Because Auden’s ideal or preferred or postulated reader has this socio-political identity, he is particularly easy to recognise ...

Yesterday

Frank Kermode

27 July 1989
The Pleasures of Peace: Art and Imagination in Post-War Britain 
by Bryan Appleyard.
Faber, 367 pp., £12.99, June 1989, 0 571 13722 9
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... place; they are unwelcome emanations of the Zeitgeist. However, once those visitations are over all goes more smoothly. We are given the necessary information about the likes of Hockney, Ted Hughes, John Berger, Germaine Greer and Noam Chomsky. Structuralism and Post-Structuralism (‘a logical enough outcome’) are briskly explained, Barthes, Lacan and Derrida rush by, Foucault and Althüsser get a ...

Watermonster Blues

William Wootten: Edwin Morgan

18 November 2004
Edwin Morgan: Inventions of Modernity 
by Colin Nicholson.
Manchester, 216 pp., £40, October 2002, 0 7190 6360 4
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Beowulf 
translated by Edwin Morgan.
Carcanet, 118 pp., £6.95, November 2002, 1 85754 588 5
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Cathures 
by Edwin Morgan.
Carcanet, 128 pp., £6.95, November 2002, 1 85754 617 2
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... lecture, Morgan cites Veronica Forrest-Thomson as one of the precursors of the American Language School. Forrest-Thomson tried to mix literary theory with Wittgenstein and some of the poetics of J.H.Prynne. She died young, and her poetry promised more than she had time to deliver. The ‘Unfinished Poems’, Morgan’s fragmented elegies to her, published in The New Divan (1977), are some of his most ...

The Slightest Sardine

James Wood: A literary dragnet

20 May 2004
The Oxford English Literary History. Vol. XII: 1960-2000: The Last of England? 
by Randall Stevenson.
Oxford, 624 pp., £30, February 2004, 0 19 818423 9
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... that draw attention to their own procedures: ‘self-reflexive, postmodern’ forms are what excite him, and the authors of these seem politically ‘progressive’ to him. This is why he likes J.H.Prynne’s verse, but not Larkin’s, and why he writes enthusiastically about Rushdie but treats A Dance to the Music of Time as if it were just a handbook of toff sociology. He has opinions about artworks ...
11 April 2013
Collected Poems 
by Edward Dorn.
Carcanet, 995 pp., £25, November 2012, 978 1 84777 126 1
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... of American upper landscape.’ That ability, ‘really looking’, was Dorn’s USP: an unblinking gaze behind the quasi-ironic aviator shades of a street-smart dealer in language. When J.H.Prynne dedicates his own single-volume gathering, Poems, to his friend and correspondent, he makes some play between the living spirit and the slick specs that were the signature of the poet’s transit ...

Enlarging Insularity

Patrick McGuinness: Donald Davie

20 January 2000
With the Grain: Essays on Thomas Hardy and Modern British Poetry 
by Donald Davie.
Carcanet, 346 pp., £14.95, October 1998, 1 85754 394 7
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... Disconcertingly inviting,’ he says of David Jones, but the phrase holds true for Davie, too, in a book which has room not only for Larkin, Betjeman, Auden and Housman but for Bunting, J.H.Prynne and Roy Fisher, and which takes time to confront the impact (‘in languages other than their own’) of Pasternak and Pound. With Davie, such words as ‘provincial’, ‘insular’, ‘tradition ...
22 February 1996
Blake 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 399 pp., £20, September 1995, 1 85619 278 4
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol I: Jerusalem 
editor David Bindman, edited by Morton D. Paley.
Tate Gallery, 304 pp., £48, August 1991, 1 85437 066 9
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol. II: Songs of Innocence and Experience 
series editor David Bindman, edited by Andrew Lincoln.
Tate Gallery, 210 pp., £39.50, August 1991, 1 85437 068 5
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol III: The Early Illuminated Books 
series editor David Bindman, edited by Morris Eaves, Robert Essick and Joseph Viscomi.
Tate Gallery, 288 pp., £48, August 1993, 1 85437 119 3
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol. IV: The Continental Prophecies: America, Europe, The Song of Los 
editor David Bindman, edited by D.W. Dörbecker.
Tate Gallery, 368 pp., £50, May 1995, 1 85437 154 1
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol. V: Milton, a Poem 
series editor David Bindman, edited by Robert Essick and Joseph Viscomi.
Tate Gallery, 224 pp., £48, November 1993, 1 85437 121 5
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol. VI: The Urizen Books 
 editor David Bindman, edited by David Worrall.
Tate Gallery, 232 pp., £39.50, May 1995, 9781854371553
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... Cassady property. I wondered, thinking of Blake’s formative experiences there, whether Carolyn had caught any of Alan Bennett’s Westminster Abbey footage? Bennett, required to audition for the John Betjeman slot, couldn’t bring himself to deliver much more than formulaic world-weariness, a drone like a miraculously articulate David Hockney impersonator. Jonathan Meades does this schtick so ...

Every three years

Blake Morrison

3 March 1988
Fifty Poems 
by Ian Hamilton.
Faber, 51 pp., £4.95, January 1988, 0 571 14920 0
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A Various Art 
edited by Andrew Crozier and Tim Longville.
Carcanet, 377 pp., £12.95, December 1987, 0 85635 698 0
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Between Leaps: Poems 1972-1985 
by Brad Leithauser.
Oxford, 81 pp., £5.95, September 1987, 0 19 282089 3
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Eldorado 
by William Scammell.
Peterloo, 71 pp., £4.50, October 1987, 0 905291 88 3
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Disbelief 
by John​ Ash.
Carcanet, 127 pp., £6.95, September 1987, 0 85635 695 6
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The Automatic Oracle 
by Peter Porter.
Oxford, 72 pp., £4.95, November 1987, 0 19 282088 5
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Voice-over 
by Norman MacCaig.
Chatto, 64 pp., £5.95, February 1988, 0 7011 3313 9
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... 34; Norman MacCaig’s Voice-over, three years on from his Collected Poems, has 58; Cat’s Whisker by Philip Gross (three years on) 41; Jouissance by William Scammell (two years) 38; Disbelief by John Ash (three years) 55; Ken Smith’s Wormwood, a collection of poems written during a spell as a writer in residence in Wormwood Scrubs (one year), 30. The justification for such work-rates, beyond ...

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