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10 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Coterie reading, 10 Feb. 2013
This review is from: Dear World & Everyone In It: New Poetry in the UK (Paperback)
Like illegally smuggled livestock, most prentice poets are dead on arrival. But if you can motor past the self-consciously wacky introduction* and preliminaries (oy vey) you may find, as they rather dampeningly say, much to enjoy, even if after a while it starts to read like ghastly parody. It was compiled on the cumulative principle, like Dominic Luxford's 2007 effort (part of McSweeney's #22). During the two years it took to compile, the editor only got through about two poems a day, which surprised me - though I suppose he had days off. (There was all that Star Trek to watch.) The order is random, or quite possibly ego-trippy; 'the thread that binds [the pieces]', the editor intimates, coyly channeling Montaigne, 'is my own'. The rather gorgeous collage on the cover (respect to Neil and PRP for the choosing and framing thereof) was the work of John Ashbery in his eighty-first year; may a handful of these voices have his luck, not to speak of Robert Conquest's staying power (intro, p21)

Oli Hazzard was discovery numero uno; he has wit, and more. Artist Patrick Coyle engaged me. Heather Phillipson, also an artist, is a delight, though I suspect she, like Tim Coburn - and Melanie Challenger rather less successfully - may breach the strictures of that tortuous (gnomic?) intro; I look forward to her book from Bloodaxe this year. Rachael Allen is warm. Amy Evans is a cooler, grown-up ee cummings, confident, playful (ditch the original). Katharine Kilalea is narrative, and sounds delightfully Irish (she's South African). Kate Potts is touching. Luke Kennard, a name I knew (and conflate with Julian Stannard's), does his shtick. Rather than a poet, I've always thought him an imitation of one; there may be more genuine poetic feeling in John Hegley. Though it's true you don't often come across keister in a poem, a word whose pronunciation I had to look up; it's tricky, like heinous. (Think Easter, while heinous is a killer rhyme for a synonym of keister. Not that you'll find many of those here - killer rhymes, that is.) Our Editor has clearly taken a shine to Kennard (he gets fourteen lines of intro, though he is but one name among sixty, but then he does have imposing publishing previous; only Chris McCabe, with three books under his belt, gets more); the NYSchoolish Sam Riviere is funnier, much

Simon Turner is turning out dubiously Gothic prose poetry. Sophie Robinson slips in a sonnet; I'm always a sucker for those. Marcus Slease exudes a, well, sleazy charm ('I was a translated clam'). Jack Underwood commands our attention. Is that altogether enough, though, for what everyone's calling a 'substantial' volume? (Big, that I'll grant you.) The rest made for an incoherent, joyless read ('the reader is an editor, too', as the intro somewhat superfluously reminds us) but prove me wrong, World; find me that killer line. In retrospect those *** were a little on the generous side (it's how I am); if it hadn't been for Oli Hazzard's neat li'l pantoum, well.. I also spotted what looked suspiciously like a ghazal. No 'Old Poetry' permitted, Mr Editor? And seriously, Nathan, you say 'How can 'like' be interesting?' Like is half of what poetry is about, viz metaphor and music, which together generate meaning. That's probably half what living's about, too, the other half being largely getting food on the table and whistling in the dark. And as any hardened poetry-reader would tell you, there's only one 'kind' of poetry that counts, and that's poetry of quality. (The fact that poetry is 'now all over the internet' is part of the trouble. And a clique is no less cliquey on-line.) I'm tempted to say there's only one kind of TV too, at least for the serious writer**, something I think also concerns Chris Hedges+ (intro, p21); it's only a pity that the supply of the former is limited (though not quite so limited as some people suppose), whereas the latter.. The Editor tells us he hears Young Poets talking, generally to each other. When they are doing that they are not talking to their audience. This will appeal to budding poets, would-be poets and possibly even poets' partners who like to keep their poets happy - and quite right too

* The back cover says Nathan Hamilton is anti-oppositional. I found his intro to be both oppositional and confused, in fact truly dreadful, the sound of a man talking not to The World but increasingly desperately to his word-processor; but then I suppose The World, by and large, tends to ignore poetry anyway. This anthology will define its own audience, he suggests. As he weighs into the General Reader, he must be careful not to define his audience out of existence. To scorn a Crispy Mandarin Orange Chicken for being 'meat free' suggests he should be more careful of his imagery; advertising, as he ruefully observes, is ahead of the game. But who reads introductions anyway? For me the highlight was the cute Brainardism ''An anthology' is awkward to say' - the rest was noise
** 'media-rich', Mr Editor? Poetry is written in only one medium, and it is written in the head
+ though the liberal class whose demise in America Hedges laments is perfectly alive in this country, just ineffectual; probably too busy watching TV (not that I'd suggest reading Hedges either - he seems to be going off the rails)
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 12 Feb 2013 12:39:53 GMT
Last edited by the author on 13 Feb 2013 10:43:06 GMT
Six negatives already? What do they want, blood?

Posted on 14 Feb 2013 12:03:36 GMT
Oh, and Nathan, a smart ass is a well-tailored behind. A clever d*ck is a smart*ss. Takes one to know one
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