Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Shh, don't mention the C word

My word, is it that time of year already?

Well, here's wishing you a very warm and happy time with your families and friends, and may 2011 be not only the first year of a brand new decade, but the start of many great things.

I will be glad to see the back of 2010, having spent a good deal of it in me bed.

Normal-ish service has since resumed, in the last three months - sure I'm even writing again! Shhh - lets not jinx it :)

In the meantime, I leave with a little something about critic/poet Randall Jarrell's book of reviews/critiques/ essays: Kipling, Auden & Co.: Essays and Reviews, 1935-1964. NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1979.

Jarrell (hadn't he a fab name? He gave good photos too - every ounce old-school beard going on there!), had a great facility in writing about the poets he wished were better than they were, and praising (without sycophancy) the poets whose work he admired(Bishop, Stevens, Auden, Yeats and of course, Frost). There's a really brilliant essay on what made Yeats write the way he did, in the book, which I am looking forward to re-reading. I think he's right on the money, with his approach on Yeats. I want more of his work!

Reading with the benefit of fifty-sixty + years later, you recognise the writers whose work has endured, and the writers whose work was not as good - well, guess what? You've never heard them... or you may have but in a very slight sense (ooh, he was harsh on Stephen Spender). Makes you think about today's writers quite carefully, as well as what went into Jarrell's close reading of poetry.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Poets do say it better

Colm Keegan features nicely in the end of an article in this week's Sunday Times Culture magazine (no url, I'm afraid, they've gone subscription). The commentary, written by Harry Browne, offers a broad survey of how Irish culture has responded to the economic times we live in.

Theatre, says Browne, a more immediate medium, seems to have turned to re-interpretations of old classics to try and help re-define ourselves, with plays such as Phaedra, or Ibsen's John Gabriel Borkman. Cultural commentators, in the form of writers, haven't had the same impact - perhaps not having the economic nous to deliver pronouncements - I love the line about 'Irish intellectuals mak[ing] a good case for being the world's leading blatherers'!

So, Browne turns to the spoken word piece by Clondalkin poet Colm (and his cohorts of the Unruly Trinity) for some lovely quotes: 'Ireland is a Glock pointed at someone's son. Or a Christian Brother. Or it's own mother because she won't move into a nursing home.'

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Nearly - Never Made It..

Just home after trying to get to London today, to do the Oxfam reading.

Guess where I was trying to fly to? London Gatwick.

Guess where is closed until who knows when? London Gatwick.

There are some things you just have to console yourself with: that your home is still warm, and you have a nice warm curry waiting for you and that in the grand scheme of things, you're actually quite lucky, compared to some poor buggers caught out in the snow.

And there's always next year :)