This is a rich package indeed. Until getting it, I've never properly appreciated Basil Bunting.
The long poem Briggflats which is the main text in the book is a long meditation on a persons life, sense of place and is partly autobiographical. Bunting had a very rich life: wandering the world working in the diplomatic service, and poet who knew amongst others Ezra Pound and Louis Zufosky. There also are enlightening essays on and by Bunting explaining his ideas about poetry, all which help understand the text.
Most enlightening is his view that poetry is to be heard like music. This is especially apt as the CD of Bunting reading the poem adds whole new dimensions to the text. It some how becomes become so much clearer when heard. Indeed, I found I could surrender to Bunting's voice and words and, like music, let them just sweep over me. Except there's more: the DVD where one meets the poet himself in the latter days of his life.
This package is an ideal introduction to this poet. I will be going back to some of his other poems.
on 28 August 2009
Lovers of poetry - and language in general - all revel in the sumptuous feast that is Briggflatts. The poem contains, among other wonders, some of the most startlingly lovely writing about stars in English.
It's worth buying this new edition for the pleasure (and instructiveness) of hearing Bunting himself reading in his strong colourful voice what he terms his "biography".
on 19 December 2011
I can't praise this set highly enough. It consists of a critical edition of Briggflatts, a CD of Bunting reading the poem and a DVD of an early 80's Channel 4 documentary about the poet (which itself is a revealing and sterling piece of work).
To start with the poem, Briggflatts has always been critically lauded. It's the 'autobiography in verse' of a great english poet, I love it and I wish it were far better known. As with other modern works like "The Waste Land", I'll never claim I understand every line of it, but the poem is shot through with such beautiful lines and imagery that you don't have to know exactly what's being said in every line. Added to this is the fact that Bunting all his life made the claim that poetry is like music, and as such is written in order to be read. In this context, Briggflatts takes on a life of its own and even if you read it aloud yourself you find it working its magic on you. It IS great music as well as great verse.
This brings us on to the other highlights of this package. The book itself consists not only of the poems, but also numerous critical writings which, if they don't try and fully explain the poem's meanings, go a long way to putting it into context for you. The real highlight, however, is the brief biography of Bunting (illustrated by many photos). This isn't just a potted version of his life story, but also a mini guide to the poem itself, in the sense that it highlights the key experiences of his life which inspired and informed a lot of Briggflatts.
To cap it all, we get the CD of Bunting reading the poem aloud. Bunting was an exceptional reader of verse, and by the time he made this recording he possessed a rich, resonant voice. In my opinion his claim that poems should be read aloud is beautifully vindicated by this recording. Play the CD and you'll find your understanding of Briggflatts- which though unquestionably beautiful CAN be quite hard to apprehend in places- is aided and enhanced.
The more I read him, the more I think Bunting is one of the true greats, and this package goes some way to proving the point.
on 21 June 2013
Book cd and dvd... BB may not be yer Wordsworth at churning out a fantastic amount of poetry throughout his (colourful) life but then he did do 'other things'... .. Briggflatts is a brilliant, earthy poem.. enhanced by being read by its author.. the DVD gives an insight to the poems geographical setting.. and is great to hear the author relating his memories. Details in the book regarding BB's life are also interesting... V Pleased with my purchase.
on 5 January 2012
This book was on our reading list and the poetry tutor told us if we didn't like or understand it then read it again and again (I guess he meant until we did grow to like / understand it). Well, I read it and then read it again and again. And do you know what, I really like this book. It is particularly interesting when I follow along with the CD. I haven't got round to watching the DVD that came with it yet.