Friday, January 23, 2015

magical moments in literature

[This post consists of raw notes towards an essay on Andrea Brady's poetry. The finished essay (eight months later) incorporated some of this, but not much.]


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 OK, it's my mission to dash something off for Intercapillary Space, but what about? Let's check out what's in my backpack.

Edward Thomas, Werner Aspenström, William Shakespeare... hmm, it's not quite what I'm looking for.

Try another pocket. Tim Allen's Default Soul. Well that's more like it, but people are going to be fed up with me writing about Tim Allen. Anyhow, that's where we'll begin.

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Default Soul (Red Ceilings Press, 2014) contains 44 poems that are all in the same format (three four-line stanzas). "Stanzas" is quite a misleading term here, but at least you'll understand what the poems look like.

The end-paper says that it's the first of a trilogy of such books, and I hope that turns out to be true, because of all the various Tim Allen books I've read I think this is the most imaginatively intense.

It's a small pamphlet and a very good thing to carry around in a pocket because you don't need to read much to get a hit off it. Each poem consists of 12 sort-of-jokes. They interact in a mainly subliminal way.  If I claimed that I'd laughed out loud a few times, you'd think that I'm lying, but anyway I've definitely chuckled. I think one of the lines was

chilly on the terrace even in the cubby hole


When something's a limited edition of 35 copies it seems ridiculous to call it popular poetry, but it kind of is. If you can imagine one of those comic compilations of amusing or wacky newspaper headlines, then that's not too far away from what you've got here,

physicist's life is in ruins he insists

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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

stack o' tracks

I'm listening my way through a stack of CDs on one of those black plastic spindles (left with me by Kyli when she went abroad for a while and seized the moment to abandon old technologies).

None have their own sleeves and most have only a few hand-scrawled details.

To contextualize these comments, you should understand that I stepped off the pop carousel in about 1990 so like a Dantean soul have very little awareness of the recent past.


1. aardvarch.

Electronic music, probably European, and pretty good.


2. masters at work.

This must be the NY mixing duo who were pals of Todd Terry. Not sure when this CD dates from, but the general joyousness of it reminds me of what made Todd's music so great.  Lots of great extended dance tracks, mostly jazzy instrumentals, plus one or two with singers. Great piece of salsa to finish.


3. jimi hendrix.

One of the bad things that happened back in the day if a big artist died young was that it triggered a mountainous shit-pile of terrible recordings flooding the budget market.   A budget Marvin Gaye album is almost certainly going to be live concert tracks, badly played, badly sung, hammily performed and badly recorded. Hearing soul masterpieces like Inner City Blues and Let's Get It On in this context is weirdly fascinating. It makes you realize how much the icon of greatness has to be sculpted out of the murk of reality. In Hendrix's case, the hundreds of indistinguishable budget records consisted mainly of sludgy blues jams. Occasionally they're lit up by some brilliant flash of guitar lightning; then, half a second later, it's back to the sludge. I suppose these were the scrapings of that period in every pop musician's career that is usually covered off in one forgettable sentence of the biog ("after playing in local bands such as Butterfudge, Luke Bumble's Strangers, and the Featherlites, he came to the attention of ..."). This pre-dawm in a musician's career ought to be nearly forgotten, cloaked in mystery, the lure of a few diehard collectors. But Jimi's pre-dawn wasn't forgotten. In most of these recordings the musicians are just messing about; they have no discernible audience in view so they aren't really trying to communicate anything.


4. Putumayo Presents Africa 1999. This is fun. Zimbabwean Jit, Congolese soukous, S. African township plus Togo and a few other places - no Nigerian or N. African. In the 1980s I eagerly collected African LPs from Sterns. 30 years later, my astonishment at the rhythms and guitar-playing has only grown stronger.


5. Coral. This turns out to be The Coral's splendid first album (2002), except that some of the tracks skip rather badly. The question of which one was better, this or its companion "Magic and Medicine", continues to resonate around the campfires of this land. Whatever, it was an amazing double-opening-gambit. What WAS it about The Coral that made them compulsive when so many of their musical ingredients suggested just another lightweight derivative good-time band? In the end I think it might come down to James Skelly's voice. Not only that, but especially that. Whatever ridiculous thing he's singing, he connects with us. It was the misfortune of the Coral that they were basically retro and late-arrivals to a music form (rock) that was already dead. hence they never received the kind of critical attention that, say, "Crocodiles" did; instead, the critical commentary amounts to little more than "Merseyside Mayhem Ahoy"! And that's harmful to the artists.


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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Victor Alexander Sederbach (fl. 1755-56)

Lacock Abbey, outside the Great Hall


Yesterday I spent a few sunny January hours with pals walking around Lacock. Sunny, but chilly, so the promise of a log fire in the Great Hall of the Abbey was quite inviting.


Lacock Abbey, Great Hall interior


This quasi-Gothic Great Hall was remodelled for John Talbot in 1753, so it's four years later than Horace Walpole's Strawberry Hill. 

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Wednesday, January 07, 2015

manchester airport



someone I knew
drew in her nest breath

by fiber repose

beyond the full December hotel
like a covered annexe
through the empty airport

inter lube steel

gull

viaduct travellators,
under its engineered roof
slung bottle-bin

night-lit, nearly empty,  clear my head

of its hall of trolleys



I took a snowy breath; I paused

and glanced out to the terminals;

taxi-ing craft, becalmed so late;

upward, as if to a belfry:

the southern night sky
and its distance; a pucker of the folds:
vegetation, fire, or birds?

something happened to dismay us




you looked via cool
                mile-long ringway return
boy
body disembarked onto
castle shelves

came ads for greenspace
               back-lit caffeine hit

New Scientist rail and a rhythm of taxi phones
               Swissair: continuous, background resonance
see you again
   of something.
Mile of ring-pull warmth

gull of the hood jogging breeze
a shoe-in scarf

cabin-crew heels, claret lipstick
      if you switched to E-lites

panes flashed as I passed:
             the constant chuckle in the vents

you touching me drunk

          faster by the glass, postcard
serving Broughton Cliff, Kersal Moor

pick up my beat and flail with the spirit of seventy fire
           flare
           like one in sunshot tins beside a deck
Tulane Wilaayat has shooting boots
it's yesterday once more
you're thirsty and hungry
you're shrivelled
oh! cheerleader
and pip sliding
on a box of wings

as if to the tune of
"Bats in the Belfry"
lowered to execute
the tiers in old hall


I lay and smoked... around me, the night thickened.

in the lake mist, in a clearing

the spiral of a buzzard

spread fan, wisp of a dawn fire,

as if the momentum of the ringway

drew up into the dark

a pilgrim's spiral

I rested in the hugeness of triliphons

celestial board-meetings

flecked wingbeats


Is it summer, mamma?


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