Paintings by Jean McNeil

These paintings by Jean McNeil are from her current portfolio of work inspired by the land and seascapes of East Anglia. They will feature in  Graphologies  to be published in May  by Mica Press. To see more of her work  go to her website: www.jean-mcneil.co.uk ” order_by=”sortorder” order_direction=”ASC” returns=”included” maximum_entity_count=”500″]

Like as Not

This is a fictional memoir  featuring the mysterious K, who might just be a refugee from The Castle or a close relative of Brecht’s Mr Keuner.  The eponymous hero, Arnold Kvaktum,  recalls a journey of self-discovery as he explores the surreal landscape of his childhood and youth growing up in a  dystopian society of the future where ‘soapspeak’ and ‘knowgov’ are the only permitted discourses. The pervasive sense of personal dislocation, of a lack of concordance between the officially authorised map and the  unfolding  territory of a life here results in a series of phantasmagoric events culminating in a suicidal sea voyage. The photographs which accompany the text  anchor  the narrative to its ‘other scene’. The whole text forms the final part of Graphologies, which is to be published in May by Mica Press. Further information from http://www.micapress.co.uk Below is a short extract: Baptismal Naming They  have asked me to  write the [Read More…]

Scenes From A Missing Childhood

 Introduction:   ‘Scenes from a Missing Childhood’ is based on the author’s experience of growing up in London during the blitz; it consists of a sequence of short prose poems depicting screen memories associated with the V2 bombs,  his being sent away from home as an 18 month old baby to his grandmother in South Wales and the subsequent return. These pieces seek to create a narrative from fragments of experience which remained embedded like shrapnel in a badly damaged landscape and to convey a some of the feelings that had to evacuated in order to hold on to a sense of identity, however tenuously sustained.The sequence is included in Graphologies which is to be published  in May by Mica Press ( see New Books for further information). Here, as a taster  is one section: Siren calls The baby wakes up out of a bad dream. He is  being  attacked again. The [Read More…]

Between Prospect And Refuge

BETWEEN PROSPECT AND REFUGE This is a series of poems that explore the hinterland of commonplace experience from the vantage point of the ‘other scene’ and across a range of idioms and genres. There are love poems, poems of separation and loss, narrative poems, concrete poems and comic verse, and poems occasioned by the impress of landscapes and seascapes, or particular encounters and events. The poems form the first part of Graphologies (Forthcoming from Mica Press) and accompany a sequence of paintings  by my partner Jean McNeil. One  of the poems is reproduced below:   Ulysses   in translation On  the beach at El Penio where once Phoenicians and Moriscos danced he works the line of parasols   around his head a halo of tobacco smoke, in his hair canaries flutter and glint   On his chest the sign reads God Is Great. On his back a map of Africa proclaims:   [Read More…]

The Cultural Olympiad: Carrying the Torch for Art?

This text explores the cultural politics and poetics of the London Olympics. It begins by looking at the   growth of ‘feel good’ art in the context of the economic recession.   It goes on to discuss the contemporary role of poetry in public culture ,  and the  relationship b between the aesthetics of sport and literature. It concluded with a detailed reading of the poetry commissioned for  the Olympic Park. The first version of the text was  published in the poetry magazine Agenda in its Spring Issue 2012. Parts of it were also reproduced in Soundings 50  and on line by the History Workshop Journal. View the full document here:  The Cultural Olympiad: Carrying the Torch for Art?

The Occasions of Poetry

The Occasions of Poetry   (text) This text  sets out one possible approach to applying  sociological concepts, especially those of Bruno Latour,  to understanding trends and traditions in poetry writing. In contrast to the  mainstream sociology of literature, which  looks to the social content or  context of the poem, and/or the social mileu and attitudes of the poet, the focus here is on how  the formal properties of the poem   are produced and function within a distinctive community of practice, involving both readers and writers in a shared poetics. The text goes on to discuss  various  ‘schools’ or movements  in contemporary poetry and the occasions, both public and private, in which poetry   is written, read, recited, or quoted.  The text concludes by illustrating  its approach through  a detailed  reading of a poem by John Ashbery. Unpublished Paper originally given to a an ESRC seminar on ‘Methods in Dialogue’  in 2005, extensively [Read More…]