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Toot Sweet

Ian Aitken, 27 May 1993

Tired and Emotional: The life of George Brown 
by Peter Paterson.
Chatto, 320 pp., £20, May 1993, 0 7011 3976 5
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... of the Wilson Government at the time. Needless to say, not all the Brown saga is included in Mr Paterson’s recital – that would require thousands of pages. But many of the most familiar stories are here, together with several I had not heard before. Almost all are sheer nightmare, involving such outrageous behaviour that it could only be funny to people ...

Degree of Famousness etc

Peter Howarth: Don Paterson, 21 March 2013

Selected Poems 
by Don Paterson.
Faber, 169 pp., £14.99, May 2012, 978 0 571 28178 7
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... A few years back, Don Paterson was warning everyone that contemporary British poetry was under threat. Not from the usual enemies, philistines in government or chain bookshops, but from two groups of poets: populists and elitists. According to his 2004 anthology, New British Poetry, populists are well-intentioned souls who bring poetry to factories, schools or prisons, ‘via some patronising mediation, some strategy intended to make it “easier”: a visit from a performance poet, or a themed workshop, or a poster campaign with the dumbest, shortest poem the committee can find, set in 50-point bold ...

Yearning for Polar Seas

James Hamilton-Paterson: North, 1 September 2005

The Ice Museum: In Search of the Lost Land of Thule 
by Joanna Kavenna.
Viking, 334 pp., £16.99, February 2005, 0 670 91395 2
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The Idea of North 
by Peter Davidson.
Reaktion, 271 pp., £16.95, January 2005, 1 86189 230 6
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... exercised over me little of the magic it has for so many others, including Kavenna and Peter Davidson. ‘The Idea of North’ was the Canadian pianist Glenn Gould’s phrase and the title of a radio documentary he made. ‘I have an enormous compulsion to look upon the polar seas,’ he wrote to a friend in 1965, ‘and I find that this is growing ...

Problems

Peter Campbell, 1 October 1981

Early Disorder 
by Rebecca Josephs.
Farrar, Straus/Faber, 186 pp., £5.50, September 1981, 0 571 12031 8
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A Star for the Latecomer 
by Bonnie Zindel.
Bodley Head, 186 pp., £3.95, March 1981, 0 370 30319 9
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Catherine loves 
by Timothy Ireland.
Bodley Head, 117 pp., £3.95, June 1981, 0 370 30292 3
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Jacob have I loved 
by Katherine Paterson.
Gollancz, 216 pp., £4.95, April 1981, 0 575 02961 7
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... How many books have I read? Two hundred, three hundred, five hundred …? I could compile a list. But what would it tell me? What I know? What I have forgotten? What I was? What I wanted to be? What my mother and father wanted and expected and expect me to be? Millions of Cats, Goodnight Moon, Caps for Sale, Where the wild things are, The Blue Fairy Book, The Red Fairy Book, The Wind in the Willows, The Jungle Book, Stuart Little, The Secret Garden, The Borrowers, The Little Prince, Member of the Wedding, Gigi, Lord of the Flies, Return of the Native … This is Willa, the 15-year-old narrator of Early Disorder, looking at her bookshelf and wondering if you are what you read ...

At the Centre Pompidou

Jeremy Harding: Beat Generation, 8 September 2016

... he only really sputtered to life again in 1990 with an autobiography, and died a few years later. Peter Orlovsky and Allen Ginsberg at the Hotel de Londres, Paris in 1957. Bob Thompson, ‘LeRoi Jones and his Family’ (1964) Brion Gysin, ‘Calligraphy’ (1960) Brion Gysin, William S. Burroughs, Untitled (Primrose Path, the Third Mind, p.12, 1965) Ettore ...

Chicory and Daisies

Stephanie Burt: William Carlos Williams, 7 March 2002

Collected Poems: Volume I 
by William Carlos Williams, edited by A. Walton Litz and Christopher MacGowan.
Carcanet, 579 pp., £12.95, December 2000, 1 85754 522 2
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Collected Poems: Volume II 
by William Carlos Williams, edited by A. Walton Litz and Christopher MacGowan.
Carcanet, 553 pp., £12.95, December 2000, 1 85754 523 0
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... non-academic readers can pretty much skip them. The current US edition adds one notable poem, ‘Peter Kipp to the High School’, published in the Rutherford High School magazine in 1921; the Carcanet edition omits it. Williams spent more than twenty years planning and writing his book-length poem Paterson, a ...

Forget the Klingons

James Hamilton-Paterson: Is there anybody out there?, 6 March 2003

Evolving the Alien: The Science of Extraterrestrial Life 
by Jack Cohen and Ian Stewart.
Ebury, 369 pp., £17.99, September 2002, 0 09 187927 2
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XTL: Extraterrestrial Life and How to Find It 
by Simon Goodwin and John Gribbin.
Weidenfeld, 191 pp., £12.99, August 2002, 1 84188 193 7
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... to signify humanity’s blasting off into the unknown he is obviously deaf to its echo of Peter Pan’s mawkish assertion that ‘to die will be an awfully big adventure.’ It is also fine to throw out phrases like ‘we will soon be able to cross the gaps between stars’; but who is this ‘we’, and why the implied immediacy, even urgency, of all ...

Diary

Susan McKay: Breakdown in Power-Sharing, 8 March 2018

... in 2015, it was mended with the Fresh Start Agreement. The then first and deputy first ministers, Peter Robinson and McGuinness, issued a joint statement signalling ‘our resolve to engender the sea change so longed for by our communities’. The reference was to Seamus Heaney’s The Cure at Troy, in which ‘hope and history rhyme’ and there is ‘hope ...

Kooked

Mark Ford, 10 March 1994

Selected Poems 
by Charles Olson, edited by Robert Creeley.
California, 225 pp., $25, December 1993, 0 520 07528 5
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Selected Poems 
by Robert Duncan, edited by Robert Bertholf.
Carcanet, 147 pp., £9.95, October 1993, 1 85754 038 7
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... all-powerful poet envisioned by Emerson, who ‘re-attaches things to Nature and the whole’, to Peter Stillman, in Paul Auster’s City of Glass, crazedly attempting to re-create prelapsarian speech. Olson, it is often pointed out, is the first poet to have described himself as ‘Post-Modern’. That was in 1952. Five years before that he published his ...

Bad Dreams

Robert Crawford: Peter Porter, 6 October 2011

The Rest on the Flight: Selected Poems 
by Peter Porter.
Picador, 421 pp., £12.99, May 2010, 978 0 330 52218 2
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... would end in marriage. It did not. She married instead a 30-year-old advertising copywriter called Peter Porter. He was an Australian immigrant in London, and had written a lot of poems, but published relatively few; she was a nurse who seemed ‘very English’ in accent and tastes, and was admired for having a figure like a ballet dancer. They set up home ...

Smirk Host Panegyric

Robert Potts: J.H. Prynne, 2 June 2016

Poems 
by J.H. Prynne.
Bloodaxe, 688 pp., £25, April 2015, 978 1 78037 154 2
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... and proudly conventional writers and critics, such as Ruth Padel, Fiona Sampson, Andrew Motion and Peter McDonald, have found positive things to say. Last year Prynne received a Society of Authors award. The publication of the collected Poems in 1999, an ever fattening volume updated in 2005 and again last year, each time gathering in new collections and ...

I lived in funeral

Robert Crawford: Les Murray, 7 February 2013

New Selected Poems 
by Les Murray.
Carcanet, 310 pp., £14.95, April 2012, 978 1 84777 167 4
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... life – emblematically, almost mythologically – sets out challenges faced by many writers. Peter Alexander’s biography, Les Murray: A Life in Progress (2000), is a volume every poet and aspiring poet should buy, filch or borrow. Having first met Murray in 1985, I filched it almost as soon as it was published (and draw on it here). The most arresting ...

Vendlerising

John Kerrigan, 2 April 1987

The Faber Book of Contemporary American Poetry 
edited by Helen Vendler.
Faber, 440 pp., £9.95, November 1986, 0 571 13945 0
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Selected Poems 
by John Ashbery.
Carcanet, 348 pp., £16.95, April 1986, 0 85635 666 2
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The Poetry Book Society Anthology 1986/87 
edited by Jonathan Barker.
Hutchinson, 94 pp., £4.95, November 1986, 0 09 165961 2
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Two Horse Wagon Going By 
by Christopher Middleton.
Carcanet, 143 pp., £5.95, October 1986, 0 85635 661 1
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... a tap-root deep into Romanticism. Including a dozen Stevens texts pre-dating the Pisan Cantos and Paterson, while excluding Pound and Williams, the book seems more atavistic than Contemporary, and slanted into bias. Nothing in the objectivist or projective line is included. Olson is rejected, along with Dorn. A tradition of strong poetry, leading back through ...

Martian Arts

Jonathan Raban, 23 July 1987

Home and Away 
by Steve Ellis.
Bloodaxe, 62 pp., £4.50, February 1987, 9781852240271
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The Ballad of the Yorkshire Ripper 
by Blake Morrison.
Chatto, 48 pp., £4.95, May 1987, 0 7011 3227 2
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The Frighteners 
by Sean O’Brien.
Bloodaxe, 64 pp., £4.50, February 1987, 9781852240134
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... the world before it. Trailing in the long wake of The Waste Land, the Cantos, Williams’s Paterson and Bunting’s Briggflatts were Louis Zukofsky’s A, Charles Olson’s Maximus, Allen Ginsbert’s Howl, the substitution of ‘breath’ for metre and gossip for metaphor. Adrian Henri and Roger McGough, with their sedulous imitation of the faux-naif ...

Diary

David Craig: Barra Microcosm, 24 May 2001

... hills near Beattock on the way to South Uist and Barra. At Oban I’ll rendezvous with David Paterson, a landscape photographer, who’s working with me on a book on the Highland Clearances. As I overtake a worn blue Audi estate, I look sideways and see Dave’s face and grizzled beard. We exchange incoherent signs, pull in a little later on the hard ...

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