Three very different books arrived on my desk within the past few days and all are worth serious attention.
Robert Rowland Smith’s On Modern Poetry, From Theory to Total Criticism, gives a serious account of how we engage with reading poetry. In the introduction he points to the difference between poetry and prose as being demonstrated by poetry’s camera-obscura genius not just for focusing on the tiny and projecting it on a larger screen, but for turning it upside down:
‘Where a prose narrative keeps going with the pinpricks—and then this, and then that—accounting for every line in the budget, the poem takes us inside its own endarkened shoebox cinema and shows us a little scene, some magic theatre, of luminous non-sense’
The concluding chapter in this book is titled ‘The case of J.H. Prynne’ and it provides a fascinating close reading of ‘A blow on the side of the mouth’, the last poem in the sequence Word Order which appeared in 1989 from Peter Larkin’s Prest Roots Press.
Two new Oystercatchers
The Liverpool-based poet Sarah Crewe and the London-based Richard Parker both have excellent new chapbooks out from Peter Hughes’s Oystercatcher Press and these can be obtained by going to the website www.oystercatcherpress.com