Friday, 21 November 2008

friday, wednesday and thursday

Last Friday I attended a reading given by Peter Riley and Roger Langley at Dulwich College. The reading was primarily for the students and though turnout was voluntary for this after-hours event there was a goodly audience. Roger Langley, whose Journals (Shearsman, 2006) I’d recommend to anyone for their density and perceptual clarity, began by discussing the reception of haiku and the way that most scholarly discussions of the mode end up trying to crudely paraphrase what is already a kind of ultimate unit of writing. Peter Riley read a poem based on the early thirteen-month Chinese calendar. Both of these poets took their auditors a long way from notions of the art as a series of ever-more-clever simile manufacturings.

On Wednesday Riley appeared again in the Blue Bus series, this time with Peter Philpott. The latter read once more from his new manuscript consisting of poems ‘written’ by several characters, while the former read, among other pieces, a sequence of short pieces from a journey around the southwest of the US. The journal paralleling these poems (and many other things, including a wonderful memoir of growing up in the Manchester catchment) can be seen on Riley’s website.

Last night at Birkbeck, Michael Heller, fresh from the George Oppen conference in Edinburgh read earlier work as well as material from his forthcoming book of poems, Eschaton. Heller’s new book on Oppen, Speaking the Estranged, has only just appeared. Earlier critical work includes Conviction’s Net of Branches (when it appeared this was clearly the best introduction around to the work of the so-called Objectivists) and Uncertain Poetries (Salt, 2005). A selected poems, Exigent Futures came out from Salt in 2003.

Meanwhile I’d spent the late afternoons of Wednesday and Thursday wandering through the collections at Tate Modern and Tate Britain, noting the rehangings of the respective permanent collections. At the Modern I particularly noted works in the rooms devoted to the theme ‘states of flux’ including paintings by Robert Delaunay, the quite wonderful Gino Severini, Edvard Munch and Pierre Bonnard and filmwork by Jonas Mekas. At Tate Britain they’ve given some rooms over entirely to the work of a single artist or a particular association of artists like the Independent Group. A whole room of Victor Pasmore was worth it, as were hangings of Robyn Denny, whose work I’d seen little of, and Eduardo Paolozzi (in the Independent Group room with Nigel Henderson) featuring collages from his scrapbooks and a collage mural from 1952. I’d never particularly liked the later Paolozzi but the early things are fascinating (both for themselves and for the argument that ‘pop’ originated in Britain, not the States).

1 comment:

Ian Brinton said...

Whilst agreeing entirely about the importance of Heller's 'Conviction's Net of Branches' it is also worth bearing in mind the excellent 'The Objectivist Nexus', ed by DuPles & Quartermain which contains Andrew Crozier's essay on Zukofsky (a companion piece to his article for Sagetrieb on Bunting.