Sep to July 2011
This from a letter to a friend to whom I have sent a CD of the recording which follows:
This morning I happened to find myself looking at a website run by a musiclover, who in memory of Kurt Sanderling had set up ten consecutive excerpts one could play of Sanderling conducting Mahler. I began listening to the first—the slow movement of the tenth symphony—then wondered what the second excerpt was, as none of the excerpts were titled. But when the second began, the first excerpt continued to play. To cut a long story short, I ended up making a recording of the ten of them playing simultaneously. As I mentioned to someone else to whom I have also sent a copy of this groundbreaking Found Object, certain electronic adjustment noises which crept in three or four times in the recording process seemed sufficiently duck-like to be added to the title. “Mahler in Central Park After Dark, with Ducks,” as it is now called, lasts ten minutes.
I have been looking for a soft-soled pair of slippers for a good while due to problems with my feet. Visited today the exhibition of Krygyzstan handmade products at Collins Gallery in Glasgow, and besides the beautiful wall hangings, carpets and clothes, found these woollen and felt slippers for sale exactly fitting the bill feetwise.
The fetching red stars are a bonus.
Following conversation with Mark Buckland of Cargo publishers for whom I did a reading in Glasgow earlier this year, Cargo plan to bring out a gathering of my prose writings in printed paper and ebook form on March 1st 2012; at the same time launching a free app of my web journal March 2009 - August 2011. This latter I hope will arrange the entries in forward fashion, a "page" per entry making them more accessible for those interested enough to want to access them.
Pound: “Literature is news that stays news.”
Above and below, poems from fifty years ago by seminal literary artist Eugen Gomringer (b. 1925), at present on a UK tour. He will be giving a reading and having a public conversation with Thomas A Clark at the Scottish Poetry Library, Crichton's Close, Edinburgh on Friday September 16th at 5 pm. Admission free.
The Construction of an Iconography
Pentagon public relations hirelings the Rendon Group, who were paid to manage pro-war propaganda and organise the oppositional so-called “Iraqi National Council” during the last war on Iraq, have been helping to package the Libyan conflict for consumption in the west. They and other such groups are tasked to manage the presentation of reports on the conflict as to foster support at home for foreign policy and for the actions of military abroad. Rendon’s current “Senior Media Strategist”, Tim Kilbride, states in his currently online Linkedin CV that he has been hired since May to “Provide public affairs assistance to the Nato mission in Libya”. He has moved on from his job as “on-site project manager and client liaison for a classified U.S. Army Psychological Operations program in Baghdad”, and last year he also concluded “a successful, six-month stakeholder liaison effort within the Pentagon to build consensus for and map key concerns related to DoD policy on social media and other Internet-based capabilities.” In other words he and his company group are paid by Nato to function exactly as founder John Rendon described himself to an audience of US army cadets in 1996, when he told them “I am an information warrior and a perception manager.”
A BBC television report from Tripoli broadcast on August 23rd and supposedly just happening to catch Libyan “rebels” exulting in victory, seemed to betray the hand of such a “perception manager” present. Present in much the same way as in April 2003 when a crowd was filmed in Iraq supposedly showing spontaneous exultation at the overthrow of Saddam Hussein on the second invasion of Iraq by the American army. Both reports carried the same single-image message to the viewer: “the people here conclusively validate our military involvement by showing their triumph over the tyrant brought low.” And both reports, curiously enough, might cite Sergei Eisenstein’s 1927 film October as their source of inspiration.
In an essay of 1991 on media reporting of the then newly concluded Gulf War I wrote “The possibility had to be avoided that people might actually imagine a real country with real people having an ancient culture. Instead there was the language-bombardment of demonology: "Saddam" this, "Saddam" that - as if it was a personal demon that was stretched like Gulliver from Turkey to Saudi Arabia”.
Of the bombings of Iraq in 1991 and 2003, so the bombing of Libya in 2011. Presently onward, it now seems, to “Assad”. That packaging has already begun.
The immediate cause of the recent riots in London was the shooting dead of a man by police, and this had cause to remind me of the Northumbrian poet Joseph Skipsey (1832 – 1903) whose father was shot dead by police during a miners’ strike.
Joseph Skipsey himself went down the mines at North Shields when he was only seven, but in a twelve to sixteen hour day managed to find some time by candlelight to copy letters of words from bills and notices onto the trapboard he was guarding. By this practice he developed himself beyond the rudimentary literacy he had acquired before starting work, and subsequently progressed in his reading to have learnt off by heart some books of the Bible in his early teens.
His writing progressed in poetry until his Carols from the Coal-Fields of 1866 attracted praise in London literary circles from the likes of Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Various attempts to get him an easier job saw him once being given the job of caretaker at Ann Hathaway’s cottage, but the money was not sufficient for him and his family, and he went back to the pits. Before he died though he also edited some editions of the Canterbury Poets series including the editions of Burns and Coleridge.
Basil Bunting edited a selection of Skipsey’s poems published by Ceolfrith Press Sunderland in 1976, but despite the value of the introduction and the fact that any writing by Bunting is worth reading, nonetheless Bunting decided to edit some of the poems as to “improve” them, so I don’t like that edition myself, preferring to read a poet in his own terms.
And in those terms, these two understated poems by Skipsey are ones I love, here reproduced as they appeared in Carols from the Coalfields and in the later useful selection to be found in the 1905 fifth volume of Alfred H Miles great 12 volume The Poets and Poetry of the Nineteenth Century.
Alternative news on the currently climaxing US-British bombing and special forces coup in Libya can be read here Scroll down to read headlined articles.
A clear and not uncritical interpretation of Libya’s immediate past under Gaddafi, with overview of attack components, is published today here
My collection outside the narrative: poems 1965-2009 went out of print this year, but as from today the reprint is now back in stock with WordPower in Edinburgh and available to buy online here
The reprint as with the original is a joint publication between Etruscan Press (Nicholas Johnson) and WordPower Books (Elaine Henry with Tarlochan Gata-Aura). Nicholas who has been in charge of the book’s actual production at Etruscan has as in the past with previous of my books gone to lengths to try to give me exactly what I wanted. He told me a month or so ago that he hoped I would find this reprint the best production of my work I had ever had. My last input after an exchange of pdf’s with the typesetter correcting a couple of things in the original publication, was repositioning the font for some poems better to my liking, then choosing with Nicholas the colour of the endpapers.
There was a new printer for this edition, and it follows a tradition of radical printers working with my books since the Free Tyneside Press printed Intimate Voices in 1984. This time the printer is Aldgate Press, printer to the publishing house Freedom Press.
Thanks Nicholas, and Elaine.
I received in the post this morning Proletarian Literature in the United States, an anthology of prose and poetry published in New York in 1935. The politically conscious writings of the Depression years have been sidelined and largely forgotten—if ever read—by the academies and narrators of our official national literary histories. But what’s going on just now in the UK and elsewhere makes the work something a lot of people might be very interested in. In an age of repossessions, novels like Mike Gold’s Jews Without Money is as valuable a literary document as Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle.
American academic Cary Nelson has attempted some redress in books such as Repression and Recovery: Modern American Poetry and the Politics of Cultural Memory 1910-45. It was in that book I saw a reference to the 1935 anthology which I ordered recently on abebooks, and within which, at first browse, I happen to like these two poems by Kenneth Fearing on the pages reproduced below.
Happened to put on the radio last night and came on the BBC yet again trying to deal with the running sore that my six o'clock news poem seems to have been for them since it first appeared on English GCSE ten years ago. I have now added the following to the web page GCSE pupils go to for info about the poem on this website.
A friend has pointed out to me that male survivors of child rape and / or abuse have formed their own counselling service in Glasgow, Speak Out Scotland. The new service deserves all support and any man with issues relevant can find the website here
Also deserving all support is the truly historic speech Enda Kenny made in the Irish Parliament the week before last, at last separating church and state, saying that the people of his country will no more allow the Catholic Church to manage the rape and torture of its children. Ratzinger & Co then withdrew the Vatican representative from Ireland. To use a phrase of my mother’s, Hell mend them. Kenny’s speech can be listened to here.
The editing has been completed for my CD recorded on April 29th so this should be out within the next couple of months. Musician and producer Rab Noakes has made a good job of the recording and I think it sounds fine.
WordPower are in discussion now with Etruscan Books about a reprint of Outside the Narrative and that should be out within the next couple of months also.
Remi Kanazi, Palestinian American, has recently published a book of his poetry accompanied by a CD called Poetic Injustice. It can be bought from the American Amazon site though I can’t find it on the British one. Have asked WordPower in Edinburgh if they will get me a copy.
Kanazi’s accusatory declaiming style reminds me in Scotland of some work of poets Jim Ferguson and, from a few years back, Bobby Christie. Not that such anger and politics gets you anywhere in mainstream channels on either side of the Atlantic. Kanazi is more likely to get a drone with Obama’s intials on it through his window than he is to get a Pulitzer prize.
Above clip is of Kanazi reciting his “Israel/America: A rambling poem”.
A note from Brighton
The myth of the self is a kaleidoscope. but let's be clear. Let's be absolutely fucking clear. By 'myth' we don't mean falsehood.