Monday, 31 December 2012

A Poetic Riddle


"When Chuang-Tze explains that the Tao experience implies a return to a sort of elementary or original frame of mind, where the relative meanings of language are inoperative, he resorts to a play on words that is a poetic riddle. He says that this experience of returning to what we originally were is like ' entering a cage of birds without making them sing'. Fan means both 'cage' and 'return'; ming both 'song' and 'names'. The sentence therefore equally means 'to return to the place where names are superfluous': to silence, to the kingdom of the unsaid. To the place where names and things melt into one: to poetry, the domain where naming is being"
                                                                 Octavia Paz, quoted in the Preface to For The     
                                                                   Birds: John Cage in Conversation with Daniel

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Burying The Year


Deryn Rees-Jones

 If you're looking for something to read as a distraction from the grotesque ordeal of Xmas shopping  - or stuck at home like me with this horrible noro-bug that's doing the rounds - try the latest online edition of New Welsh Review (98). It's a remarkably diverse and substantial gathering, laced with ideas and politics to spice up the literary offerings; a brilliant refutation of Richard Dawkins' atheistic bullyings, for example, a travel-piece on Havana, and a rescusitation of the brilliantly-named Welsh prose-writer Oliver Onions. I have a review of Deryn Rees-Jones' strikingly elegiac Seren volume Burying the Wren right at the end, certainly the most moving book of poems I've read this year.
   The round-up of the year edition of The Wire magazine ('Rewind 2012: The Year in Underground Music') is also well worth checking out, whatever your musical allegiances. Mostly alerts me to all the interesting stuff that has passed me by this year. Are their tastes softening perhaps? Bryan Ferry is featured on the Invisible Jukebox and I never thought I'd see a new Bob Dylan album at no.7 on the Releases of the Year rundown...
   Also just got a link to the new Blackbox Manifold, another trove of strong writing with poems by John Peck, Carrie Etter, John Wilkinson and Ian Seed and a lengthy appreciation of Peter Robinson.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

I Too Was a Shoe-Gazer


 Bemused this week to discover that this year's winner of the Turner Prize, the video-artist Elizabeth Price, was a founding member of the 80s indie band Tallulah Gosh. Like Alex Petridis of The Guardian, who wrote an appreciation on Tuesday, I must admit to having been quite a fan as a callow undergraduate, drawn to the band's tweely ramshackle guitar-jangle and alluringly retro-styled female members, although by the time I saw them live in '87 I think Price had already left the band and Eithne Farry had taken over as second vocalist (Amelia Fletcher, now of Tender Trap, was the other).
    In fact on that dimly-recalled occasion, attended with my best friend Rob at some forgotten London dive, our drunken enthusiasm saw us accost the band after their performance and fervently entreat them to give our own fey guitar-duo (entitled The Chattertons after the legendary suicided teenager-poet) a support slot at their next gig...
    Needless to say we never heard back from them - nor indeed did The Chattertons ever get to the stage of playing a gig - but that's (as they say) another story...
    What's also interesting about Petridis' article is how he reveals that most of the other Gosh members have gone on to dayjob careers as successful as Elizabeth Price's - Fletcher, for example, is Chief Economist at the Office of Fair Trading.
    From the perspective of those shoe-gazing, C86 days, when shambolic unworldliness and child-like naivete were often counted as virtues, who'd have thought it?