Monday, April 27, 2009

Begin afresh, afresh, afresh

Saturday's Telegraph carried an article on Larkin by John Shakespeare, based on a series of letters between the two written in the 1950s. It's interesting enough, and I'm no Larkin-basher, but I'd willingly trade the two pages this article took up for one page of new poems by contemporary poets. Or half a page, even.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Church sells filthy book to man in jumper

Spent the best 50p I've spent all week today at the church book sale, buying a copy of The Common Muse: Popular British ballad poetry from the 15th to the 20th century. It's edited by Vivian de Sola Pinto (wartime friend of Sassoon who appears in the Sherston books as Velmore) and AE Rodway, about whom I know nothing.

The cover, by Stephen Russ, is great. The version here is the best I could find online, and doesn't do the real thing justice - a grid of images illustrating various random words.

Inside there's 600 pages of balladry arranged by theme - some obscene, some historical, satirical etc. It's got Lilliburlero, the famous song of the 1688 revolution (and, more importantly, the tune that Uncle Toby whistles in extremis in Tristram Shandy), which I found opening the book at random when I got it home. The next time I opened it, I found (in the coyly named 'Amatory' section) 'Much has been said', which begins 'Much has been said of strumpets of yore', and becomes much less genteel from that point on.


Friday, April 24, 2009

Sentence I particularly enjoyed from Weaponry Through the Ages

by William Reid

One type of weapon that is rarely found in any inventory of a private individual's arms is the beheading sword.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Back from holiday in East Sussex, where the literariest thangs I done were writing a poem every day, reading Naipaul, and visiting Rye, where I saw houses once lived in by Henry James and Conrad Aiken.

Arrived home to find final proofs for The Corner of Arundel Lane and Charles Street, looking great, and the cover too. 

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Holiday reading

I'm between books, so I started VS Naipaul's In a Free State, even though I'd been saving it for when I go on holiday later this week. I've only read three or four pages. It looks very, very , very good! Just got to fit four days' worth of work into two days, then I can relax. 

Monday, April 06, 2009

Read or write?

OK, so it's an artificial and ultimately meaningless thought experiment (a bit like a poem, then), but:

You're cursed by an evil demon. From now on you can either read or write, but not both. Which do you choose? Which is more important to you?

I choose reading. What about you?

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Dude, quick, your house is burning down

Like many another April fool, I'm taking part in NaPoWriMo - writing a poem a day throughout April and posting it here.