‘Life, friends, is boring’: A drink with legendary poet John Berryman
03.19.2014
06:34 am

Topics:
Literature

Tags:
Poetry
John Berryman

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He signed his earliest poems as John Allyn McAlpin Berryman. The name was a marriage of his father’s and his stepfather’s names. It was then shortened to just “John Berryman,” but this, he began to believe, was a terrible betrayal.

“What I should have done,” he told his first wife Eileen Simpson, “What I cannot forgive myself for not having done, was to take the name John Smith. This act of disloyalty I will never, never be able to repair. To ‘make a name’ for myself…Can you see how ambivalent my feelings are about this ambition?”

His father was John Allyn Smith, a banker whose suicide, when Berryman was eleven, was to have a major influence over the poet’s life. His father shot himself outside of his son’s window.

His mother claimed his father was too cowardly to kill himself, and that it had been an accident. She remarried quickly to a man she may have been having an affair, John Angus McAlpin Berryman. The surname was adopted and John Smith became John Berryman.

His father’s death robbed the young poet of a strong mentor, leaving Berryman too much in awe of others. He was influenced by T. S. Eliot, W. H. Auden and Saul Bellow, and it took him time to filter these writers out of his work. He also had an uneasy relationship with his mother, who dominated much of his life. He was haunted by his father’s early death, and feared he would fail in life as his father had. There was a premonition of what the future would bring at the party for his engagement to Eileen Simpson in 1942. Berryman was getting drunk, and an argument was simmering between him and his mother, as Eileen later recalled in her memoir Poets in their Youth:

Soon after the party broke up. John and I were staying with his mother [...] He was, as he said, high as a kite. Never having seen him either high or boisterous before, I was amused. [...] The vodka had done its work; he was not merely high, he was drunk. I was just taking this in when there was an exchange between mother and son to which John reacted with a flare-up of anger such as I’d come to expect whenever they were together for too long. I entered the kitchen at the moment when he turned from her, threw open the door to the terrace and with the skill of a gymnast leaped over the ledge of the shoulder-high wall that enclosed it. The ledge was wider than a foot, but not much. Below was the cement sidewalk. As Mrs Berryman shrieked, John started walking, slowly putting one foot in front of the other: the drunk giving himself the test he always fails. It was this scene, and the moment of paralysis I felt before going to him, that remained framed in my memory.

Thirty years later, in January 1972, there was no one to save Berryman jumping from the ledge of the Washington Avenue Bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He landed on the edge of the west bank that flanked the ice-covered Mississippi River.

In his song “We Call Upon the Author,” Nick Cave declared:

Bukowski was a jerk! Berryman was best!
He wrote like wet paper-maché
But he went the Hemingway

Berryman and Bukowski both wrote from the turmoil of their lives. Both were drunks, had fractured relationships with others, and mythologized their lives in writing. But Cave is right, Berryman was a better poet than Bukowski, and his poetry demands more from his readers. Perhaps because of this, Berryman was never as fashionable as Bukowski, and only truly received the acclaim he rightly deserved after his death. His greatest works are Homage to Mistress Bradstreet (1956), 77 Dream Songs (1964),  His Toy, His Dream His Rest (1968), The Dream Songs (1969), Love & Fame (1970), Henry’s Fate & Other Poems, 1967-1972 (1977).

This is John Berryman filmed in a bar in Dublin, 1967, discussing his Dream Songs, his alter ego “Henry,” his biography on novelist Stephen Crane, and reciting his poem “Dream Song 14”:

Life, friends, is boring. We must not say so.
After all, the sky flashes, the great sea yearns,
we ourselves flash and yearn,
and moreover my mother told me as a boy
(repeatingly) “Ever to confess you’re bored
means you have no
Inner Resources.” I conclude now I have no
inner resources, because I am heavy bored….

This year marks the centenary of Berryman’s birth, which is to be hoped will bring a new generation of readers to his life and work.
 

 
More poetry and words from John Berryman, after the jump…

Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
‘The most important Irish poet since Yeats’: Vintage doc on Nobel Prize-winning poet, Seamus Heaney
02.28.2014
10:06 am

Topics:
Literature
Television

Tags:
Poetry
Seamus Heaney

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I was once lucky enough to see Seamus Heaney, who Robert Lowell once called “the most important Irish poet since Yeats,” give a poetry reading at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. It was not long after his volume Field Work had been published.

The reading was held in an upper floor of the Assembly Rooms, looking on to a busy George Street. Heaney sat at a long table, which was slightly raised off the floor, its white linen cover planted with microphones. Through failing memory, I recall the actor J. G. Devlin, and either Niamh or Sorcha Cusack, flank the poet either side, their backs to the windows, silvered and yellowed with light. Heaney said he thought he was a poor reader of his own work, and that he preferred others to read his poetry, yet, when he did read, Heaney made the words tingle.

I thought Heaney looked like one of my father’s relatives. The eyebrows, the ruddy hue, the soft down of hair, the shared Irishness of my ancestors, farmers, and coopers, and supposedly tailors out of Dublin—the stories of my forebears change depending on the tale and the telling.

I listened as the three took turns to read “Death of a Naturalist,” “Blackberry Picking,” “Digging.”

Between my finger and my thumb  
The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.

Under my window, a clean rasping sound  
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground: 
My father, digging. I look down

Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds  
Bends low, comes up twenty years away  
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills  
Where he was digging.

There was no waste, every word used precisely, wisely, unfolding purpose, and meaning, and a shared sense of joy at what means to be alive. Outside, the Festival traffic moved on, oblivious. The memory fades, but Heaney’s poetry like all good literature maintains. Heaney died last August at the age of 74. His final message to the world, written in Latin moments before his death was: “Noli timere” (“Don’t be afraid.”) Enda Kenny, the Irish Taoiseach, remarked on the poet’s passing “He is mourned — and deeply — wherever poetry and the world of the spirit are cherished and celebrated,” Mr Kenny said. “For us, Seamus Heaney was the keeper of language, our codes, our essence as a people.”

This is Seamus Heaney interviewed by Melvyn Bragg for the South Bank Show in 1992. Forget the sub-titles, and listen to the beauty and wisdom of the words.
 

 
After the jump Seamus Heaney reads his “Digging”...

Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
Sylvia Plath reads 15 poems from her final collection ‘Ariel’ in 1962
06.01.2013
12:22 pm

Topics:
Art
Books
Feminism
Heroes

Tags:
Sylvia Plath
Poetry
Ariel

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Sylvia Plath reads 15 poems from her final collection Ariel. The poems have been arranged in chronological order of composition, from recordings made on October 30th, 1962.

Hearing Plath’s voice brings a direct connection with her poetry that decades of biographical and academic debate has lost. This is quite wonderful.

Sylvia Plath reads from Ariel

01. “The Rabbit Catcher”
02. “A Birthday Present”
03. “A Secret”
04. “The Applicant”
05. “Daddy”
 

 
06. “Medusa”
07. “Stopped Dead”
08. “Fever 103°”
09. “Amnesiac”
10. “Cut”
 

 
11. “Ariel
12. “Poppies In October”
13. “Nick And The Candlestick”
14. “Purdah”
15. “Lady Lazarus”
 

 
Via Open Culture
 

Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
Liverpool Poet Roger McGough: Reads ‘Blazing Fruit or The Poet as Entertainer’

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Roger McGough reads “Blazing Fruit or The Poet as Entertainer,” and talks to critic Michael Billington about his approach to writing poetry.

McGough came to fame in the 1960s, along with Brian Patten and the late Adrian Henri, as part of the Liverpool Poets. Their seminal volume of collected poems The Mersey Sound, brought poetry out of the academies and into the coffee-houses, bars, and working men’s clubs of swinging England.  As McGough said at the time:

The kids didn’t see this poetry with a capital p, they understood it as modern entertainment, as part of the pop-movement.

Associated with The Beatles, as part of the “Liverpool Explosion,” McGough went onto form the popular music, comedy and poetry group The Scaffold, with comic John Gorman, and Paul McCartney’s brother, Mike McGear, which famously led to a number 1 hit “Lily the Pink” in 1968. McGough later teamed-up with Neil Innes for GRIMMS, and since the mid-1970s has been one of Britain’s best known and best loved poets.
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds

GRIMMS: The most incredible 70s Supergroup, you’ve probably never heard of…


 
With thanks to NellyM
 

Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
Legendary poet Christopher Logue reads: ‘I shall vote Labour’

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In 1964, The British Labour Party was elected into government with a slim majority of 4 seats. Such a small majority made governing the country difficult for canny Prime Minister, Harold Wilson. Therefore, after 17 months in power, Wilson called a second election. In support of winning re-election, the Labour Party’s magazine, Tribune asked a selection of writers and artists who they would vote for in the 1966 General Election. In response, sensing Labour might not hold to their socialist ideals, poet Christopher Logue wrote the poem “I shall vote Labour.”

I shall vote Labour

I shall vote Labour because
God votes Labour.
I shall vote Labour to protect
the sacred institution of The Family.
I shall vote Labour because
I am a dog.
I shall vote Labour because
upper-class hoorays annoy me in expensive restaurants.
I shall vote Labour because
I am on a diet.
I shall vote Labour because if I don’t
somebody else will:
AND
I shall vote Labour because if one person
does it
everybody will be wanting to do it.
I shall vote Labour because if I do not vote Labour
my balls will drop off.
I shall vote Labour because
there are too few cars on the road.
I shall vote Labour because I am
a hopeless drug addict.
I shall vote Labour because
I failed to be a dollar millionaire aged three.
I shall vote Labour because Labour will build
more maximum security prisons.
I shall vote Labour because I want to shop
in an all-weather precinct stretching from Yeovil to Glasgow.
I shall vote Labour because
the Queen’s stamp collection is the best
in the world.
I shall vote Labour because
deep in my heart
I am a Conservative.

Christopher Logue was a poet, writer, journalist, dramatist, screenwriter, actor and performer. Born in Portsmouth, in 1926, Logue was an only child of middle-aged parents. After school, he served in the Black Watch regiment, from which he was given a court-martial for selling stolen pay books, and given a 16-months’ jail sentence.

On release, he moved to Paris and started his career as a writer and poet, ‘out of complete failure to be interested by what was happening in London at the time.’

‘It was so drab. There was nowhere to go. You couldn’t seem to meet any girls. If you went up to London in 1951, looking for the literary scene, what did you find? Dylan Thomas. I thought that if I came to the place where Pound flourished, I might too.’

In Paris, Logue met writer Alexander Trocchi (who saved Logue from an attempted suicide), and the pair set-up and edited the legendary literary magazine Merlin, which premiered work by Samuel Beckett, Eugene Ionesco, Chester Himes, as well as Logue and Trocchi. The pair also wrote pornographic novels for Maurice Girodias’ Olympia Press, and briefly met William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso in the late 1950s.

George Whitman, propietor of Shakespeare and Co., described the pairing of Trocchi and Logue as:

‘True bohemians, Beats before Beats officially existed. Christopher was the scruffy poet, quite down and out most of the time. He definitely fancied himself as Baudelaire or somebody like that.’

In Paris, Logue toyed with Marxism, and was once famously put down by the author Richard Wright.

‘You’ve got nothing to fight for, boy—you’re looking for a fight. If you were a black, boy, you’re so cheeky you’d be dead.’

But Logue lost none of his mettle, or his socialist convictions and he continued to be a gadfly throughout his life. In the 1960s, he collaborated with Lindsay Anderson, giving poetry readings at the National Film Theater between features. He was a pacifist and a member of Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, taking part with Bertrand Russell on the marches to Aldermarston.

He appeared at Peter Cook’s club The Establishment and wrote songs for jazz singer Annie Ross, and had one recorded by Joan Baez. He also appeared at the Isle of Wight Rock Festival, and contributed the wonderfully bizarre “True Stories” to Private Eye magazine. He acted for Ken Russell in The Devils, wrote the screenplay for Russell’s Savage Messiah, and acted in Terry Gilliam’s Jabberwocky. Logue’s poetry was incredibly popular, even appearing in posters throughout the London Underground. His most famous works were Red Bird, a jazz colaboration with Tony Kinsey, and War Music, a stunning and critically praised adaption of Homer’s Illiad. He was awarded the 2005 Whitbread Poetry Prize for his collection Cold Calls.

Logue died in 2011, and Wilson won the 1966 election with a majority of 96 seats.

This is Christopher Logue reading “I shall vote Labour” in 2002, as filmed by Colin Still.
 

 

Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
Vintage Recording of Lawrence Durrell: Reading his poem ‘Alexandria’

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A recording of author Lawrence Durrell (1912-1990) reading his poem “Alexandria.”

Durrell may be slightly out-of-favor these days, in part because he was a writer’s writer—more interested in method and style of writing than plot and narrative—yet, his books can be profound and very enriching reads, in particular The Black Book, The Dark Labyrinth and of course, The Alexandria Quartet, which made him a star when it was first published. There is also The Avignon Quintet, which has its moments but is too often caught up with its own mythology—think Dan Brown, secret organizations, Nazis and the intricacies of love.

Though Durrell will never be considered a truly great poet—he is more A. E. Housman or Robert Browning than T. S. Eliot—there are always cleverly constructed poems to be found in his work, such as this gem, “Alexandria,” which was written during the Second World War.

Alexandria

To the lucky now who have lovers or friends,
Who move to their sweet undiscovered ends,
Or whom the great conspiracy deceives,
I wish these whirling autumn leaves:
Promontories splashed by the salty sea,
Groaned on in darkness by the tram
To horizons of love or good luck or more love -
As for me I now move
Through many negatives to what I am.

Here at the last cold Pharos between Greece
And all I love, the lights confide
A deeper darkness to the rubbing tide;
Doors shut, and we the living are locked inside
Between the shadows and the thoughts of peace:
And so in furnished rooms revise
The index of our lovers and our friends
From gestures possibly forgotten, but the ends
Of longings like unconnected nerves,
And in this quiet rehearsal of their acts
We dream of them and cherish them as Facts.

Now when the sea grows restless as a conscript,
Excited by fresh wind, climbs the sea-wall,
I walk by it and think about you all:
B. with his respect for the Object, and D.
Searching in sex like a great pantry for jars
Marked ‘Plum and apple’; and the small, fell
Figure of Dorian ringing like a muffin-bell —
All indeed whom war or time threw up
On this littoral and tides could not move
Were objects for my study and my love.

And then turning where the last pale
Lighthouse, like a Samson blinded, stands
And turns its huge charred orbit on the sands
I think of you — indeed mostly of you,
In whom a writer would only name and lose
The dented boy’s lip and the close
Archer’s shoulders; but here to rediscover
By tides and faults of weather, by the rain
Which washes everything, the critic and the lover.

At the doors of Africa so many towns founded
Upon a parting could become Alexandria, like
The wife of Lot — a metaphor for tears;
And the queer student in his poky hot
Tenth floor room above the harbour hears
The sirens shaking the tree of his heart,
And shuts his books, while the most
Inexpressible longings like wounds unstitched
Stir in him some girl’s unquiet ghost.

So we, learning to suffer and not condemn
Can only wish you this great pure wind
Condemned by Greece, and turning like a helm
Inland where it smokes the fires of men,
Spins weathercocks on farms or catches
The lovers at their quarrel in the sheets;
Or like a walker in the darkness might,
Knocks and disturbs the artist at his papers
Up there alone, upon the alps of night.

 

 

Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
W. H. Auden’s Library Books
02.22.2013
04:07 pm

Topics:
Books
Heroes
Literature

Tags:
Poetry
W. H. Auden
Library Books

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A list of the books W. H. Auden borrowed from the New York Society Library during January and February 1962, and for various dates in 1963, reveals the poet’s passion for mysteries and pulp thrillers (including Gladys Mitchell’s The Man Who Grew Tomatoes, John Blackburn’s Bound to Kill, Alex Fraser’s Constables Don’t Count, John Rhode’s The Fatal Pool), as well as literature (amongst which are G. K. Chesterton’s Wit and Wisdom, Delacroix’s Journals, and Schiller’s Essays). All of which he appears to have read at a ferocious rate.
 
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Previously on Dangerous MInds

Writers Bloc: Places where Writers and Artists have lived together


 
Via Poets Org
 
More of Auden’s Library Books, after the jump…
 

Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
‘Is There Life After Sex?’: New Art Exhibition and Salon from Anne Pigalle

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The fabulous chanteuse Anne Pigalle returns with a new exhibition of artwork, Is There Life After Sex?, which will be on show at Natalie Galustian Rare Books, 22 Cecil Court, London, from February 1st-21st.

Following on from the great success of Miss Pigalle’s last exhibition (at the Michael Hoppen Gallery), Is There Life After Sex? is a must-see show which will continue her discourse on relationships and the important role of sexuality in our lives.

Miss Pigalle will also be holding one of her legendary Salons, on February 14th, where Anne will perform a choice selection from her acclaimed erotic poems L’Ame Erotique. For those who wish to experience something new, important and very special, I suggest they go along to see the Last Chanteuse Ms. Anne Pigalle. Check here for details
 
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Previously on Dangerous Minds

‘L’Amerotica’: The Return of the Brilliant Anne Pigalle


Anne Pigalle: Performing at David Lynch’s Club Silencio


 
Bonus video of Anne PIgalle, after the jump…
 

Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
Happy Burns Night: Here’s a documentary on the People’s Poet Rabbie Burns

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Today is Robert Burns’ birthday, and across the world traditional suppers are held to celebrate the life and poetry of Scotland’s national Bard.

I have never been one for those couthy ritualistic gatherings, where toasts are given to the lads and lassies, and where some elder with a tartan to match his face, gives an address to the haggis. For me these suppers have little to do with Burns the man and poet, who could write such beauty as:

But pleasures are like poppies spread,
You seize the flower, its bloom
is shed;

Or like the snow falls in the river,
A moment white - then melts
for ever;

Or like the borealis race,
That flit ere you can point their place;

Or like the rainbow’s lovely form
Evanishing amid the storm. -

Nae man can tether time or tide;

No, I prefer to see Robert Burns as great poet, a revolutionary, a socialist, an egalitarian, who believed ‘a man’s a man for a’ that’ and wrote to inspire a better world:

Then let us pray that come it may,
(As come it will for a’ that,)
That Sense and Worth, o’er a’ the earth,
Shall bear the gree, an’ a’ that.

For a’ that, an’ a’ that,

That man to man, the world o’er,

Shall brithers be for a’ that.

Burns’ idealism was often compromised by the financial demands of his everyday life - and what a life. A poet, a ploughman, a lover, a drinker, a revolutionary, a government lackey, a hero, a destitute. As Andrew O’Hagan points out in this excellent documentary Robert Burns: The People’s Poet, Burns was the equivalent of a rock star in his day, a writer of songs (“Auld Lang Syne”, “Ae Fond Kiss”, “My Luve is Like a Red, Red Rose”, “Comin’ Thro’ the Rye”) and poems (“Tam O’Shanter”, “Holy Wuillie’s Prayer”, “To A Mouse”, “Cock Up Your Beaver”) that enchanted a nation and the world.

It was his ability to touch the heart and mind of his readers and to make them empathize with his subject matter, whether this was love, revolution in France or simply a mouse:

That wee bit heap o’ leaves an’ stibble,

Has cost thee mony a weary nibble!
Now thou’s turn’d out, for a’ thy trouble,
But house or hald,
To thole the winter’s sleety dribble,
An’ cranreuch cauld!

But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain;
The best-laid schemes o’ mice an ‘men
Gang aft agley,
An’lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!

Still thou art blest, compar’d wi’ me
The present only toucheth thee:
But, Och! I backward cast my e’e.
On prospects drear!
An’ forward, tho’ I canna see,
I guess an’ fear!

He was idolized by the public, and was a hero and inspiration to the likes of Beethoven and Byron. At a time of great oppression he spoke out against slavery, inequality, and poverty. Burns wanted liberty and fairness for all. Yet he died in poverty, hounded by creditors, and near-broken as a man.

That Rabbie Burns is still read, performed and celebrated 200 years after his death, says all about his importance as a poet and the relevance of his belief for a better world, where all are equal and share the common wealth.

O’Hagan’s documentary Robert Burns: The People’s Poet is no hagiography, but controversially questions many of the assumptions made about this radical poet, and examines the incredible dramatic and often tragic circumstances of his life.

A selection of Burns poems read by the likes of Brian Cox, Robbie Coltrane and Alan Cumming.

Portrait of Burns by Calum Colvin.
 

 

Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
Philip K. Dick: 3 ‘rare’ poems

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I suspect a lot of “rare” poetry is rare because it’s not very good. Its significance rests not with its quality rather with the importance of its author. Philip K. Dick was a brilliant author of speculative science-fiction; but of poetry, not so hot.

These 3 “rare” poems by PKD were posted on Reddit by thegoslings, who explains:

A little background: I saw six poems listed in a PKD bibliography, and couldn’t find anything more about them online. It took me a little searching to track down the original publications, and I finally got three of them through an Inter-Library Loan!

These came from Child’s Hat, which was published in San Francisco in 1966, and I don’t think they appeared anywhere else.

 
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THE ABOVE AND MELTING

Soft as tin,
Melting in the rain,
Melting and dripping down,

Soft as stones that are limp,
That can be bent into shapes
And stretched out,

Soft as bones,
Mashed into paste,
Mixed with pale milk,

Soft as crystal,
Dug from sweet soil,
Slowly stirred,

It is soft as these:
The moon on a warm wet night.

 

WHY I AM HURT

Stung by a jewel!
Piercing the hand,
Clinging against the flesh.

Stung by a jewel!
The point deep into the hand,
Driven in allowed.

Stung by a jewel!
The child shouts out,
Shattering the jewel.

Amber bottle-caps rain down,
Fragments of grief
Lost in the ground.

 

AN OLD SNAKE

Philosophy is an old web
Long deserted, The dreams
The spider wove into it
Glimmer weakly during night
In the sun they are only this:
Fragments of dread leaves.

 

thegoslings will be posting more of Philip K Dick’s poetry when available.
 
With thanks to thegoslings, via Reddit
 

Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
‘Whaur Extremes Meet’: A Portrait of the poet Hugh MacDiarmid

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When Hugh MacDiarmid died in 1978, his fellow poet Norman MacCaig suggested Scotland commemorate the great man’s passing by holding 3 minute’s pandemonium. It was typical of MacCaig’s caustic wit, but his suggestion did capture something of the unquantifiable enormity of MacDiarmid’s importance on Scottish culture, politics, literature and life during the twentieth century.

Hugh MacDiarmid is perhaps best described by a line from his greatest poem A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle (1926), in which he wrote:

‘I’ll ha’e nae hauf-way hoose, but aye be whaur
Extremes meet - it’s the only way I ken
To dodge the curst conceit o’ bein’ richt
That damns the vast majority o’ men.

It explains the contradictory elements that merged to make him a poet.

Born Christopher Murray Grieve, on August 11, 1892, he changed his name to the more Scottish sounding Hugh MacDiarmid to publish his poetry. He was a Modernist poet who wrote in Scots vernacular. One might expect this choice of language to make his poetry parochial, but MacDiarmid was a poet of international ambition and standing, who was recognized as an equal with T. S. Eliot, Boris Pasternak and W. H. Auden.

In politics, MacDiarmid had been one of the co-founder’s of the National Party for Scotland in 1928, but was ejected when he moved towards Communism. He was then ejected from the Communist Party for his “nationalist deviation.” He maintained a Nationalist - in favor of an independent Scotland - and a Communist throughout his life.

As literature scholar and writer Kenneth Butlay notes, MacDiarmid was:

..as incensed by his countrymen’s neglect of their native traditions as by their abrogation of responsibility for their own affairs, and he took it upon himself to “keep up perpetually a sort of Berseker rage” of protest, and to act as “the catfish that vitalizes the other torpid of the aquarium.”

 
In 1964, the experimental film-maker Margaret Tait made short documentary portrait of Hugh MacDiarmid, which captured the poet at home in Langholme, his sense of childish fun, his socializing his the bars and public houses of Edinburgh (the Abbotsford on Rose Street).
 

 
More on Hugh MacDiarmid, plus poetry and reading, after the jump…
 

Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
Thom Gunn: Reads Two Poems ‘Jamesian’ and ‘Home’
10.21.2012
05:48 am

Topics:
Art
Literature

Tags:
Poetry
Thom Gunn
Home
Jamesian

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The poet Thom Gunn reads 2 of his poems, “Jamesian” about “the connection or lack of connection between people,” and “Home”, which was inspired by the chilling response to a question Gunn once asked.

As an admirer of Gunn’s poetry, it is wonderful to hear his voice and the audience’s response to his reading.

More audio of Thom Gunn (1929-2004) reading his poetry can be found here.
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds

Thom Gunn: On the Move


 

Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
Blacker than ever: Ted Hughes reads from ‘Crow’
09.28.2012
08:02 am

Topics:
Literature

Tags:
Sylvia Plath
Poetry
Ted Hughes


 

Black is the earth-globe, one inch under,
An egg of blackness
Where sun and moon alternate their weathers

To hatch a crow, a black rainbow
Bent in emptiness
over emptiness

By the time Ted Hughes published his great and terrible Crow, he was trailing more ghouls than Paulie Walnuts. Assia Wevill had very recently killed herself and their child, and in the same manner (gas) that Sylvia Plath had killed herself six years previously. The figure of Crow is cut from just such black cloth. Hughes described the poems in the following way for the limited edition Crow LP released in 1973:

Finding the right speech for Crow involved me in inventing a longish series of episodes, beginning, in traditional fashion, in heaven, where Crow is created, as part of a wager, by the mysterious, powerful, invisible prisoner of the being men call God. This particular God, of course, is the man-created, broken-down, corrupt despot of a ramshackle religion, who bears about the same relationship to the Creator as, say, ordinary English does to reality.

Surely one of the greatest volumes of English poetry of the last century or so, Crow is terrible and compelling and brilliant, and Hughes makes a fine selection for the following 1996 recording, right through to the relatively gentle coda of “How Water Began to Play” and “Littleblood.”
 

Written by Thomas McGrath | Discussion
Alan Cumming: First TV performance (as a dead soldier) for BBC director’s course

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A 19-year-old Alan Cumming makes his first television appearance in a BBC TV Director’s training course in 1984.

Never intended for broadcast, this is probably Alan’s first performance in front of a camera, though he did have a very fleeting appearance in episode 6 of Traveling Man the same year. However, he is billed here, along with his fellow performers, Forbes Masson and David Lee Michael, as final year students at Glasgow’s Royal Academy of Music and Drama.

Cumming would team-up with Masson to become the double-act Victor and Barry, making a memorable impact at the Tron Theater’s Gong Nights in 1985, where Craig Ferguson and Jerry Sadowitz also made their names.

Here Cumming is cast as one of 3 dead (or possibly war-weary) soldiers, where he lip-synchs pop songs and recites a poem by Wilfred Owen. This was Justin C Adams’ Final Project for his director’s course. Adams went onto a career as a director of quiz shows at BBC Scotland, before establishing his own highly successful production company.
 

 

Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
Anne Pigalle: Premieres her new show ‘L’Ame Erotique’

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Fighting against our intellectual and spiritual enslavement, the incomparable Anne Pigalle premieres her new show L’âme érotique, at the Hotel Bijou, Broadstairs in Kent, on August, 23.

The exquisite Anne is one of the world’s great chanteuses, and this new show brings together an intimate salon of her photography, her poetry, her discourse and of course, her brilliant singing.

The show’s title comes from Anne’s last spoken word disc L’âme érotique, which showcased a selection of twenty-one erotically charged poems, each with their own musical accompaniment. The poems dealt with love, sex, and soul, and was a fantastic oeuvre that ranged from the personal (“You Give Me Asthma”, “Lunch”) through the comic and the Surreal to the sexually explicit (“Saint Orgasm”, “X Amount” and “Erotica de toi”). Throughout is Anne’s richly seductive voice sounds as intimate as a kiss. It’s a fabulous mix, and for fans of the legendary Miss Pigalle, and for first timers, it’s a breathless, arousing and unforgettable introduction.

If you are in the UK, then this is your chance to see the legendary Anne Pigalle at her very best. Check here for details, a dn below a selection of Ms. Pigalle’s erotic photographs.
 

 
A selection of Anne Pigalle’s erotic photographs, after the jump…
 
Previously on Dangerous Minds

‘L’Amerotica’: The return of the brilliant Anne Pigalle


 

Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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