RSS Feed

Tag Archives: John James

Songs in Midwinter for Franco by John James

Songs in Midwinter for Franco by John James

Equipage Press http://www.cambridgepoetry.org/equipage.htm 

There is a sudden immediacy about the poetry of John James which can almost catch you in the back of the throat. I think that it’s the clarity of truthfulness to experience; the absolute sense of being there.

 

This is what Andrew Crozier was perhaps getting at in his ‘To John James’ from the 1969 Ferry Press collection, Walking on Grass:

 

There he suddenly is

on the other side of the street in search of

an elusive motor, or the nearest opening time,

and for a second it looked quite filmic because

he was with you a moment ago.

 

The poetry shares a quality of exactness with Antonio Machado, whose ‘Poem of a Day’ written at Baeza in 1913, gives us such palpability:

 

Outside drizzle falling,

thinning sometimes into mist,

sometimes turning to sleet.

Picturing myself a farmer,

I think of the planted fields.

 

This new sequence of John James’s poems, twelve sections written at La Manière (Langue d’Oc) in January 2013, is simply very moving; it is a sequence which one wants to return to time and time again. It places the smallest of individual moments, accurately recorded, against the backdrop of human frailty and being. Life is made up of the small moments intruding into which ‘a sudden enormity / changes everything’. Life at La Manière has a ‘tranquillity’ which ‘is difficult simplicity’. It has room for Art, the ‘word the / inscription writ large’

 

a letter from you

out of Peru

 

in your calligraphy

is better than graffiti

 

like a trace

of a bird

 

in the snow

a trembling stem

 

lets fall a bead

of rain at night

 

In the reflective and reflecting eye of the poet ‘lost objects / will be revealed’ and I am moved to look at Pound’s Canto 95 from Section: Rock-Drill:

 

LOVE, gone as lightening,

enduring 5000years.

Shall the comet cease moving

or the great stars be tied to one place!

 

This absolutely indispensable chapbook of poems, poems to live with, can be obtained from Rod Mengham at Jesus College, Cambridge CB5 8BL.

 

Ian Brinton 20th June 2014

 

Two books by Ian Brinton from Shearsman Books

Two books by Ian Brinton from Shearsman Books

Thrills and Frills, Selected Prose of Andrew Crozier edited by Ian Brinton: Michael Schmidt once wrote that Crozier ‘is a magnificent critic, moving with the certainty of a glacier, gathering everything.’ This collection of Crozier’s prose contains work that has never been reprinted since its initial publication in magazines from the 1960s to 1990s as well as material that has never been published at all. It is very much a companion volume to An Andrew Crozier Reader (Carcanet 2012) and nothing from the former volume is repeated here.

 

‘An intuition of the particular’, some essays on the poetry of Peter Hughes edited by Ian Brinton: these essays and interviews are by a range of critics and friends and they give a wide-ranging perspective on the work of this important contemporary poet whose work is going from strength to strength. The Knives Forks and Spoons Press has just published Snowclone Detritus, Hughes’s take on Petrarch’s sonnets 97-116. ‘This is terrific work’ says John James. Peter Hughes’s Selected Poems will form a highlight of the forthcoming Shearsman reading at Swedenborg Hall in Bloomsbury on Tuesday May 7th at 7.30. for further details see the Shearsman website.

 

The Shearsman books are available from www.shearsman.com

Snowclone Detritus can be got from www.kinivesforksandspoonspress.co.uk

 

 

An Andrew Crozier Reader

An Andrew Crozier Reader

Edited by Ian Brinton and published by Carcanet, this 276 page Reader presents considerable and pertinent commentary to accompany Andrew Crozier’s poems, critical prose and interviews. Attention is given to seminal moments in Crozier’s career, such as his involvement with Charles Olson, Carl Rakosi, George Oppen, J.H. Prynne, John James, Roy Fisher and his editing of The English Intelligencer, Wivenhoe Park Review and the Ferry Press.  The contextualization of Andrew Crozier’s poems is long overdue and this book serves to make available a substantial body of work that continues to excite and beguile. Close readings of Crozier’s poetry will greatly benefit from this splendid offering.

John James

In the Keynes Library of Birkbeck College on Friday, 9 March there was a John James evening introduced by Carol Watts whose own recent volume When blue light falls 3 has just appeared from Oystercatcher. There were short talks given by Simon Perrill, Rod Mengham and John Hall all of whom had contributed to the Salt Companion to John James and these were followed by readings by both Simon and John himself. As John read from his two most recent publications, In Romsey Town (Equipage) and Cloud Breaking Sun (Oystercatcher) one became aware of that haunting quality of his poetry, that sense of ghosts lurking behind the scenes, and what John Hall has described as ‘quiet and tender acts in the departing shadow of the inevitably fugitive.’ This attractive venue had been used some eight weeks ago for the one-day Peter Riley conference and Carol Watts left us with the firm sense that there are going to be many more poetry events in the Keynes Library.