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Came across a title in the poetry section of KramerBooks/Afterwards called New British Poetry. Browsed it, expecting it to be full of the same pretentious drivel that often occurs whenever the word “new” or “young” finds itself in the title of a collection of poems. Surprisingly, this collection, chosen by Don Paterson and Charles Simic, does a damned find job. Exposed me to the work of Simon Armitage, whom I’d never heard prior to opening this collection, but who, according to the editors, is “one of the UK’s most popular poets.” Easy to understand, given stuff like this:
And if it snowed and snow covered the drive
he took a spade and tossed it to one side.
And always tucked his daughter up at night
And slippered her the one time that she lied.
And every week he tipped up half his wage.
And what he didn’t spend each week he saved.
And praised his wife for every meal she made.
And once, for laughing, punched her in the face.
And for his mum he hired a private nurse.
And every Sunday taxied her to church.
And he blubbed when she went from bad to worse.
And twice he lifted ten quid from her purse.
Here’s how they rated him when they looked back:
sometimes he did this, sometimes he did that.
I’ll probably be buying his collection from amazon.uk, since, not surprisingly, his stuff’s not available here. The good stuff never is, is it? But you can walk down to Border’s and get all the fucking Bukowski you want, eh?
If the title of Mike Dirda’s new collection — Bound to Please: An Extraordinary One-Volume Literary Education — seems to you just a tad too sure of itself, you really aren’t familiar with Dirda. Pithy but elucidating one-offs that, even when read in the spare moment, allow you to put the book down knowing something you never knew before. Those who care about writers and writing should pick it up. The rest of you — well, you wouldn’t have read this far, would you?
In “The Hudson Review”: William H. Pritchard on Anthony Powell and his critics. Not bad — I mean, when is Pritchard ever less than a stellar and sensitive critic? Unfortunately, in this case, The Hitch already beat him to whatever interesting there was to say about Sir Anthony a few years ago.
Dan Jacobsen writes of Philip Larkin’s “element” in this month’s “New Criterion.” A bit too scholarly, especially when the author carts out guaranteed tenture-makers like “[Larkin’s poems ] do not merely arise from self-division but are explicitly *about* self-division.” You can almost hear Larkin yelping “what ballocks” in the background. Still, it’s worth a look.
Sorry there’s no quotes or links to make my points. Tired.