Tuesday, July 17, 2007

A sign of no time

Not spending much time in high street bookshops, or even the Guardian's book pages, these days, I realise I've no idea what people are actually reading - or, rather than when I have, say, Suite Francais or that book about Tractors, I haven't the faintest idea what they're about. I think that's what we might start to lose (have started to lose?), the sense of the bookshop, the first few pages, not the sticker on the front saying "Beach read." Speaking to a tutor from MMU's writing school last week, got a sense that they're having a fantastic year, with regards to students getting published - perhaps useful, as its rival down the road gears up for Martin Amisisation - and, as if the world needs more, a real influx of poets... Ah, poets, there's so many of them, honest. I'm still enjoying my regular fix of America's "Poetry" magazine - lively, exciting poetry, and equally vibrant essays. In comparison, Steven Waling whose new book Travelator is out from Salt, makes the point about our Poetry Review"that since its recent flirtation with avant-gardism has gone scuttling back to its nice little suburban garden of verse." Which was the impression I'd got, but I thought I might just be disliking a few of its featured poets. I can't help but note that in a recent poem it had (non-ironically, I think) a verse called "How to Knit a Poem." More enjoyably, I've just received (it feels like a gift anyway), Ian Duhig's latest, "The Speed of Dark," - always a fan of his work, there's everything in here, from explicit George Bush-bating to medieval pastiche to Johnny Cash. Its on nice thick paper and makes a nice solid block despite being only around 70 pages, like one of those first collections you occasionally find in 2nd hand bookshops from the early-70s.

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