Published: Elit blog #2 - European poetry as representation of the modern nation

http://www.literaturhauseuropa.eu/?p=4078 "Every nation’s literature contains within it multiplicities. Not only are definitions of these traditions based on approximations, that which has been recorded, assigned, that which has had the fortune of being discovered, but the very concepts around what actually makes a poem or a novel is ever changing. In fact the very intransigence, and ever changing, nature of each language we utilise in Europe makes declarations and definitions fraught. That being said, I have come to realise, reading, writing and programming in many European nations over the last number of years, that certain social and political realities, certain modern histories, have an indelible effect on what kind of poetry a nation produces now, and what kind of literature a nation reads.

Recently I curated a project called Feinde, an Austrian themed Enemies project, which is all about collaboration and exchange between nations. In this case, supported by the immensely open minded and generous Austrian Cultural Forum in London, four contemporary Austrian poets came to London and collaborated, and performed, with British counterparts. In all we put on four major events in a week, heading up to European Literature Night in Edinburgh, via UNESCO City of Literature, to close out the programme.

A first difference, and a vital one. The Austrians poets, Ann Cotten, Jörg Piringer, Max Höfler and Esther Strauss, were all guests of the Austrian Cultural Forum, which isn’t just an organisation in name, but inhabits an incredible space, a building they have run for over fifty years in London. The value of this, in having a home, a locus for the project, in encouraging collaboration, and raising awareness of the iconoclastic post-war Austrian tradition of poetry is incalculable. I intend no vast conclusions here, but I know of few equivalents in London, and I know I have yet to stay in a British house in any other city outside the UK.

More importantly, and forgive my compression here, but the outstanding innovation, elasticity of methodology and range of practise the Austrian poets evidenced, while still being major figures in their nation, suggests a rather different tradition than here in the UK. It exists here, but it is not conducive to repute in the world of poetry. Why is this? Reasons are legion, but it is hard to look past what the two nations needed to face up to after 1945. Where contrarianism and a deep suspicion of language itself seemed necessary to a country who had think through its culpability, so tradition, fixedness and conservative methodology seemed apt to those who saw themselves wholly victorious or proper.

Still, now, 70 years on, my generation of poets, those encouraging consistent dialogue and collaboration across our continent, to build communities of writers and long lasting friendships in the creative act, must be aware and mindful of history, if they are not to repeat it, or be curtailed by it."

the greatest living British poet has a new book - As When: a selection by Tom Raworth from Carcanet

THE MOON UPOON THE WATERS by Tom Raworth
for Gordon Brotherston

the green of days : the chimneys
alone : the green of days and the women
the whistle : the green of days : the feel of my nails
the whistle of me entering the poem through the chimneys
plural : i flow from the (each) fireplaces
the green of days : i barely reach the sill
the women's flecked nails : the definite article
i remove i and a colon from two lines above
the green of days barely reach the sill
i remove es from ices keep another i put the c here
the green of days barely reaches the sill
the beachball : dreaming 'the' dream
the dreamball we dance on the beach

gentlemen i am not doing my best
cold fingers pass over my eye (salt)
i flow under the beachball as green waves
which if it were vaves would contain
the picture (v) and the name (aves)
of knots : the beachball : the green sea
through the fireplaces spurting through the chimneys
the waves : the whales : the beachball on a seal
still : the green of days : the exit

From As When: A Selection by Tom Raworth published this month by Carcanet and available to order here. 

 As When spans the range of Tom Raworth's poetry to date, and includes work omitted from his Collected Poems (2003) as well as poems previously only issued as fugitive cards and broadsides. This edition of Tom Raworth's poems is beautifully arranged, with an introduction to his life and work long overdue. 

Click  here to order As When by Tom Raworth with 10% discount and free UK P&P from www.carcanet.co.uk 

Tom Raworth was born in London in 1938. Since 1966 he has published more than forty books and pamphlets of poetry, prose and translations. His graphic work has been shown in Europe, the United States and South Africa, and he has given readings of his poems worldwide: most recently in China and Mexico. In 2007 in Italy he was awarded the Antonio Delfini Prize for Lifetime Achievement. He currently lives in Brighton.

Miles Champion was born in Nottingham in 1968. Carcanet Press published his first book, Compositional Bonbons Placate, in 1996. His recent books include How to Laugh (Adventures in Poetry, 2014) and an illustrated interview with the English artist Trevor Winkfield, How I Became a Painter (Pressed Wafer, 2014). He lives with his wife and daughter in Brooklyn, New York.

Click here to order As When by Tom Raworth with 10% discount and free UK P&P from www.carcanet.co.uk.

Poet as a Boxer - my reading & talk

The worst possible conditions to hold a poetry event might be during a city wide tube strike and a torrential rainpour. The poet as a boxer event was sold out weeks in advance, 100 plus people, and then disaster struck. But it really didn't matter in the end, such was the positivity of those who did come, the commitment they showed to the idea and the concept really shone through. I had some of the most gratifying conversations afterward that Id ever had following a reading, actually made friends with people, connections that will last I think. Its because those who came seemed to inhabit the same space as I do, they are not academics, not journalists, not boxers, and yet they really think on the sport, and are in love with it. They are afficionados, but not the boxing sweats, not the old school, but perhaps a wee bit more reflexive and interrogative about the sport. Anyway, I had a wonderful time after initial worries, and Gabriele Tinti, who curated the event, was brilliant, sharing his work (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-OkbNh-Agdw), and the work of others, and the dramatic readings of his poems with leading actors from America (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_dNumsOkhs). I spoke briefly about my concerns with boxing and then read from my book fights, video below:

Poets as Saints - Erkembode exhibition reading


Sarah Kelly - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ylug5cVA81I
Marcus Slease - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3073DcMsjI0
Tim Atkins - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rbpK4XxtZe8
David Berridge - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rbGOlqN9dgk
Held at the Hardy Tree gallery in Kings X, London on November 23rd 2013, for the Erkembode: not just another saint exhibition, a series of poetry readings from contemporary British vanguard poets who have collaborated or worked closely with the artist David Kelly www.erkembode.com including poetry from Marcus Slease, Holly Pester, SJ Fowler, David Berridge, Robert Kiely, Tim Atkins & Sarah Kelly.