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Showing posts from May, 2016

PATRICK CHAPMAN, MODERN DAY STOKER OR POE, HAS A NEW BOOK OF POETRY

I have been a fan of Patrick Chapman's poetry for the whole of the 21st century at least, and remember first coming across his unusual work in his book The New Pornography (1996) - which was at the time a radical departure for Irish poetry - and 20 years later still seems to be.  Chapman should be celebrated as one of the most idiosyncratic, strange, disturbing, and imaginative Irish writers now at work - and his gothic, atheistic, scientific sensibilities chime equally with Stoker's and Cronenberg's. We often forget the Romantics loved science and the bizarre, and mistrusted god, and are more modern than even we sometimes appear to be.  Chapman is that sort of Romantic poet.

His new collection is his best by far.  Slow Clocks of Decay (Salmon, 2016) has much that appeals to that part of me which loves Hitchcock films and sexy vampires; that enjoys bleak descriptions of life's futility, and the doomed nostalgia of long-gone love affairs; that mourns suicide cases; and w…

ON READING DEREK MAHON - A NEW POEM

On Reading Derek Mahon

I wonder at how often
and when these poems
so well-wrought
will earn the readers

in the coming years
of digital concupiscence
and onanistic thrills.
A Chinese wall

is built around the fire
wall, and that is ringed
by weird indifference
to anything too brilliantly

said. There is a formal
way of being great
that has the fate of being
misunderstood.

Experiment and hate
together pull down
the banners of a kingdom
built on the quaint

ideals of elegance or chivalric
poise. The noise we intake
instead is the bread
of ignorance we break

with ourselves.
Our brains have softened
as our tongues harden;
citadels are closed;

we’re bored and boring
in equal measure
unless maintained
at a pitch would kill Darwin

or Churchill; Mahon’s
style is beautiful, still, serious,
and makes an occasion
of the flow and spill

of words into a vase; a frame.
There is an object to the art
of poetry, it is that spoken song
in itself is less wrong

than remaining dumb;
no stone is Virgil
on the way t…

A BRIEF ESSAY ABOUT POETRY BY TODD SWIFT

BEING EMPIRICAL ABOUT POETRY

As someone who has perhaps wrongly invested most of his life so far in the editing, publishing, teaching, promotion, and writing, of poems, I feel entitled to finally write this brief essay and get a few things off my chest.

It has become something of a joke (in some circles) to note the ongoing tendency to claim that Poetry Is Dead.For instance, Don Share, the inspirational editor of Poetry magazine in Chicago, regularly posts such articles on Facebook with a virtual sigh.

Well, maybe it isn’t. But I am tired of the claims made for poetry by the poets I know.And tired of the claims I myself have made for poetry, and perhaps continue to make, every time I write a poem.This is because nothing in my own experience, in what I would like to grandly call the empirical realm – what is sometimes known as reality – confirms those claims.

I suppose the major claim is that most people really do love poems, find great joy in poems, and are better for having read poems, i…