J'ai une petite dent contre les 'théâtreux' comme j'ai un peu peur des poètes. Dans le bon sens, ceci dit. Par exemple, Pennequin et Quintane me troublent politiquement et poétiquement. Et j'aime ca.
Je me suis un peu battu ici pour Sean O' Brien, je lis en ce moment le magnifique Correspondences d'Anne Stevenson, je potasse calmement la vie de Sylvia Plath (comme Adelle le fit un temps) mais sinon je m'y perds un peu, dans la Poésie. Une lacune, comme on dit a l'ecole.
Adelle Stripe est une poète et une amie. Ça aide. Une 'brutaliste' comme elle le dit:
"Brutalism calls for writing that touches upon levels of raw honesty that is a lacking from most mainstream fiction. We cannot simply sit around waiting to be discovered — we would rather do it ourselves. Total control, total creativity. The Brutalists see ourselves as a band who have put down their instruments and picked up their pens and scalpels instead.
Chez Adelle, c'est comme une intimité dévoilée (dé-violée j'ai envie de dire, et ça sans pathos), mise en extérieur, cet extérieur du Nord de l'Angleterre où elle vit avec Ben Myers (qui, lui, nous guidera next stop au fond du British Noir). Sa poésie est mise en perspective (politique? oui aussi). Tripes, Nature et propositions.
Dark Satanic Mills (son site) ou Dark Corners of the Land, son dernier recueil chez Blackheath Books le crient: il pleut sous le soleil,inside and outside, une certaine vision de la Campagne Anglaise que l'on retrouvera, en un sens, dans le Pig Iron de Ben. Bucolisme quand tu nous tiens...
'With my plastic syringe,
I Dribbled the first milk
onto my wrist
and gripped Waldorf between my legs,
until he gagged
from my surrogate pipe
I wrapped him up in a muddy blanket
dipped iodine on his umbilical cord,
held him close, my triplet runt,
pretended my heartbeat
would send him to sleep'
(in 'First Milk')
La poésie (comme la campagne) est faite pour se perdre, nous dit l'autre. Certes, mais il faut bien un point de depart pour s'égarer.
Ten Poetry Books for Your Shelves (a selection by Adelle Stripe)
1. Dissafections, Cesare Pavese
Pavese was a talented translator, critic and novelist, yet his poems stand up as some of the best examples of post-war Italian poetry in my opinion. A prominent anti-fascist, he was a political prisoner and a member of the Italian Communist Party. His later poems are distinctive as they were written close to his death – they reflect his doomed love affair with the actress Constance Dowling, and in some respects, his political disillusionment. Death Will Come with Your Eyes is particularly bleak, but has incredible power. This book is the definitive collection of his poetry and is worth every penny.
‘Death will become your eyes; / death, that is with us / from daybreak to dusk / restless and deaf, / like an old regret / or a life-long habit / you tried to shake off.’
2. Clouded Sky, Miklós Radnóti
Radnóti was a Hungarian poet who died in The Holocaust. These poems were written in transit on the road leading to his death. He was shot and his body was thrown into a mass grave. After the war, the bodies were exhumed, and his clothing contained a notebook with these final poems. They represent some of the few works of literature composed during the Holocaust that survived. His best known poem is the fourth stanza of Postcard where he describes the shooting of another man and then envisions his own death:
‘I fell next to him. His body rolled over. / It was tight as a violin string before it snaps. / Shot in the back of the head – “This is how / you’ll end.” “Just lie quietly,” I said to myself. / Patience flowers into death now. / “Der springt noch auf,” I heard above me. / Dark filthy blood was drying on my ear.’
3. The Wild God of the World, Robinson Jeffers
Jeffers is one of the finest American poets of the last century, but he hardly ever gets a mention in the UK. I’m not sure why this is, but I think he’s an important figure in the development of American literature, and deserves more respect than he currently receives. His work is often cited as environmentalist, and there are strong natural images and motifs in all of his work. He was misanthropic to a certain extent, and built his own tower in Carmel (Tor House) facing out to the Pacific. His long narrative blank verse poems, Tamar and Roan Stallion delve into incest and murder through an epic lens, yet it’s his shorter poems, Hurt Hawks and The Purse Seine that have really influenced my own writing over the past few years:
‘We had fed him six weeks, I gave him freedom, / He wandered over the foreland hill and returned in the evening, asking for death, / Not like a beggar, still eyed with the old / Implacable arrogance. / I gave him the lead gift in the twilight. / What fell was relaxed, Owl-downy, soft feminine feathers; but what / Soared: the fierce rush: the night-herons by the flooded river cried fear at its rising / Before it was quite unsheathed from reality.’
4. A Soul for Sale, Patrick Kavanagh
I first came across Kavanagh’s work after watching a play by Tom O’Brien about Kavanagh and Behan’s relationship with the same woman. There was real friction between the two, yet it was Kavanagh’s story, as an uneducated farmer (or a ‘culchie’ as Behan called him) who dreamed of being a poet that struck me. His poetry captures a sense of rural life that is rarely found in ‘pastoral’ poetry – by that I mean urban poets writing about their idealised vision of the countryside. The Great Hunger is perhaps the finest example of an epic poem about masturbation in existence. I have read it many times and find something new to love about it in each new reading. It grapples with the church, women, shame, frustration and one man’s obsession with his land. This is authentic writing from a man who was completely self-taught. That he became one of Ireland’s finest poets is of great testament to his determination and talent:
‘But his passion became a plague / for he grew feeble bringing the vague / women of his mind to lust nearness, / once a week at least flesh must make an appearance’
5. Only in the Sun, William Wantling
Wantling was one of the most original and exciting poets to emerge from the 1960s small press scene. The Korean War, heroin addiction, and 5 years in San Quentin Prison all fell under Wantling's unique gaze. These were experiences he lived, wrote about and for which he is best known. Wantling also wrote many touching and provocative poems about love and alienation in a hostile world. Michael Curran has recently re-published his work on Tangerine Press. His books have really done justice to this underrated poet:
‘Shuffling through the prisons, madhouses / hospitals – scrambling out of deserts to the mountains and the / beaches: I scribbled as I passed by, leaving my signal perversion / behind.’
6. Moortown, Ted Hughes
I must admit to only reading this collection twice before swearing never to read it again as its words branded into my head. Writers carry around the anxiety of influence and for me, I have to steer well clear of Ted Hughes for fear of picking up his words. He grew up in the same town where I live, and over the years I’ve walked the same hilltops as him, and have re-traced his poems through my footsteps. Moortown is one of his works that had a huge impact on me; it’s his diary of working on a farm in Devon. Hughes understands rural life, and pictures it in a raw, violent and visceral way. This is one of his greatest works and the book I always recommend:
‘Turned the cows out two days ago. / Mailed with dung, a rattling armour, / They lunged into the light, / Kneeling with writhing necks they / Demolished a hill of soil, horning and / Scouring their skull-tops.’
7. Birds, Beasts and Flowers, D.H. Lawrence
Although he’s better known for his fictional works, this is Lawrence’s first great experiment in free verse; it was published in 1923. This collection really struck a chord with me whilst writing Dark Corners of the Land. Although some of his metaphors are a bit obvious, I still think poems such as Snake are an underrated cornerstone in the genesis of modernist poetry. As a collection, it works a treat. Just one of those books that I’ll return to time and time again:
‘I think it did not hit him, / But suddenly that part of him that was left behind convulsed in undignified haste./ Writhed like lightning, and was gone / Into the black hole, the earth-lipped fissure in the wall-front, / At which, in the intense still noon, I stared with fascination.’
8. River of Stars, Yosano Akiko
Yosano Akiko is one of those most controversial female Japanese writers of the twentieth century. Although she’s best known for her erotic poetry, her writing also championed the causes of pacifism, feminism, and social reform. She was the first poet in Japan to openly criticise the emperor, an act that caused such rage in the population that her house was stoned. Akiko represented a new form of poetry that spoke from the heart, was stripped of artifice, and was written in a language that everybody could understand. Her tankas in particular are worth checking out:
‘Were they bitter or / were they somehow sweet, the tears / that youthful priest shed / there on the street when he / first looked at me?’
9. Hitler Painted Roses, Steve Richmond
Richmond created thousands of gagakus over his lifetime, but despite the vast number, they all have the same name. I like this gagaku written about Venice Beach in the early 1990s, where the poet meets a street performer who doesn’t recognise him. Richmond, by this time, had been a drug addict for many years, and had squandered his family’s inheritance. He was homeless and had lost his teeth – a stark contrast to the swaggering, handsome young man that had first befriended Bukowski in 1965:
‘I walked out to where he / played and I recognized him but he didn’t / recognize me / after 5 minutes he rested and I asked if I might give him a / bottom rhythm on his big tumba and he said / NO / then I asked him about some local from th’past and he said / OH YEAH MAN! I KNEW HIM! I SAW HIM PASSING OUT THAT FUCK HATE PAPER RIGHT THERE and he pointed to the big store at / rose avenue and the boardwalk and / it was quite interesting to hear how he described me / not knowing I was / me’
10. To Bedlam and Part Way Back, Anne Sexton
Of all the confessional poets, Sexton is one of the brilliant, vibrant and white hot writers of her generation. These poems were written as part of her psychoanalysis treatment. Sexton and Plath would compare notes on their various suicide attempts. Diagnosed with bipolar disorder, she had suffered from severe mental illness throughout her life, and the poems are a particularly hard-hitting reflection of life in mental institutions:
‘You, Doctor Martin, walk / from breakfast to madness. Late August / I speed through the antiseptic tunnel / where the moving dead still talk / of pushing their bones against the thrust / of cure.’