Firework Poems from Turkey

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Found- a copy of a rare book: Poems from Turkey (Taylor and Co., London, 1872). The author is anonymous but is known to be William Platt Ball (born 1844). Loosely inserted is a note giving info about him (see below*.) Of interest is the fact that he was in Turkey advising the Sultan about fireworks and while there seems to have put on a few shows. The frontispiece illustration shows a display over water with the fireworks being launched from a raft or jetty. There are poems about fireworks in the book one of which  ('Pyro's Pilgrimage') is quoted after his preface:

These poems (except a few pages on Turkish subjects added since my return) were written during a stay of fourteen months in Constantinople. During this period I superintended (under His Excellency Halil Pasha)  the Sultan's firework displays, organised a firework factory, and taught the complete art and mystery of firework making to a set of forty Turk soldiers, and English (in the mornings) to a class of four Efendis.

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‘The sewer of this vile book’ : one man’s rage against a poetry anthology.

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Today, a hundred years on, most historians find it difficult to justify the carnage that was the Great War. Back in 1919, many were morally divided on the issue. One man who saw the fight against German brutality as a wholly justified, glorious crusade, was the poet and playwright Henry Newman Howard (1861 – 1929). On reading The Paths of Glory, an anthology of anti-war poetry, he sent a scathing letter to its pacifist editor, Bertram Lloyd. A typewritten copy of this letter was recently found, tucked in with a batch of press cuttings relating to the offending book, in a copy of it , which may have been Lloyd’s own, that ended up the library of Maria Assumpta College, Kensington and was subsequently de-accessioned into the secondhand book trade.

Here in full is Howard’s letter to Lloyd:

29 Jan 1919

25, Charlbury Road,

Oxford.

Sir,

Your’ anthology ‘of War Poems is a crime. I grieve that the publishing house fathered by noble John Ruskin should be Sponsors to this execrable publication. Never again will I purchase a book bearing the stamp fouled by the guilt of this sinister booklet. Other books there are one recalls as foul things. Il Principe, possibly John Davidson’s Testament; Nietzsche—these last, like the German Empire, died mad of their guilty thoughts. Your book, garbage from end to end—if not in the individual poems, assuredly in their bringing together—carries the sickly unction of a spurious humanitarianism.

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A Byron forgery—rediscovered

Lord Byron

Forgery has always fascinated historians of literature, whether it takes the form of a whole manuscript or annotations in a printed book, or (of much rarer occurrence) a whole book or books, as in the case of Thomas Wise. The manuscript forgeries of the self-styled Major George Gordon De Luna Byron, alias De Gibler, alias Monsieur Memoir, were of some key Romantic poets, including Byron, Shelley and Keats. The one that concerns us here was a quatrain and a long prose note supposedly written by Lord Byron on the fly leaves of a copy of the fifth edition ( 1777) of the works of the eighteenth century poet, William Shenstone.

This particular forgery was well known to bibliophiles for many years, but had been long lost until our own Jot 101 CEO bought this particular copy in a book sale about eight years ago. Details were then handed on to Byron scholar Andrew Nicholson, who discussed them in a paper published in The Byron Journal in 2010.     We at Jot 101 HQ are grateful to the late Mr Nicholson for his assiduous research which focuses on the nature of the forgery. It  had been acquired by a certain Mr Young from the library sale in 1851 of John Wilks, MP, a well known collector of manuscripts.

The forgeries, penned in black ink, appeared in several volumes of the Works, as follows:

Volume 1: on the first fly-leaf at the head of the page

Trin. Coll. 1807

Byron

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The Army of the Planes

51v-xtwfTSL._SX369_BO1,204,203,200_Found in  The Poetry of Flight, an Anthology (edited by Stella Wolfe Murray, published by Heath Cranton, London 1925) this stirring poem by the American poet Minna Irving (1857 – 1940) Her real name was Minnie Odell Michiner and she was from Tarrytown, New York. She published a poetry collection, “Songs of a Haunted Heart” in 1888, and published poems in turn-of-the-century periodicals such as Munsey’sThe Smart Set, and The Gray Goose. She also wrote a science fiction story  “The Moon Woman” which appeared in the November 1929 issue of Amazing Stories (right.) She has no Wikipedia entry.  The anthology, which has pieces by Homer, Swinburne, Duncan Campbell Scott and W.H. Davies is dedicated ‘..to the memory of all have given their lives for aeronautical progress.’ Her poem could have been written by an Italian Futurist and has all  the excitement of the early days of aviation.

The Army of the Planes
They are coming with the drumming of a million pinions humming
And the purr of mighty motors that are all in time and tune
Proudly soaring with the roaring of the thousand northers pouring
Through the vast and hollow spaces sacred to the sun and moon
They are racing into places filled with radiant star faces

Following the meteor’s speedways and the comet’s ancient lanes,
And the universe is shaking, and the waking earth is quaking
At the terror and the marvel of the army of the planes
Wings of wonder as they thunder sweep the rolling clouds asunder
Sailing great uncharted oceans of the empyrean blue;
Struts are singing, wires are ringing, swift propeller blades are flinging
Spray of diamond dust and silver when they cut a star in two.
Hail the aerial squadrons forming through the fields of azure storming, Battle birds the crimson war god to celestial combat trains,
Swooping down from viewless regions to the aid of earthly legions—
Hail the glorious, victorious, valiant army of the planes!

A verse on the 1908 London Marathon

Found- a rare and forgotten slim volume Verses by one Norman Grieve privately published in 1912.  A handwritten note loosely inserted in the book says that Norman William Grieve was director of the Anglo-Ceylon and General Estates Company Ltd. (12950 acres, half tea, 40% forest – the rest cocoa, coffee and cardamons.) He  had interests in Mauritius and also dealt in rubber. The poems are on a variety of subjects – Canada, Golf, Marconi and this topical poem about the Italian runner Dorando Pietri. Pietri finished first in the marathon at the 1908 Summer Olympics in London but was subsequently disqualified. He became something of a hero at the time and met the Queen…

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The Marathon Race

(Olympia Dorando in First but Disqualified)

“Only a Race,” you say, and yet conceive

The bitter pangs of that brave heart –

Foremost of all the runners, there in sight

The goal, then deathly weariness

And the overwhelming shout of all those watchers:

What anguish! the longed-for laurels

Almost in his grasp, and yet how distant.

O God, to my tired body give

Strength to run out the Course and gain the wreath

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Vera Wainwright, poem on Powys

An excerpt from a signed typed letter addressed to the feminist bookseller and Powys specialist, Joan Stevens from Phil Coram (among other things the bibliographer of Hugo Manning.)

Vera Wainwright… have you heard of her Joan? She met the Powys family in 1927 and was “greatly enriched by this meeting”… a curious tie-up here… she was published in COMMENT, the very magazine which Hugo had such difficulty in getting hold of. She was also a good friend of Victor Neuburg and Austin Osman Spare… both of whom were involved with Aleister Crowley. In fact I have a copy of POEMS & MASK by Vera Wainwright which is illustrated by Austin O. Spare (and not published till 1968… 13 years after Spare’s death). These illustrations, as far as I know, are not published in any of Spare’s other books. The thing which may be of interest to you however is the first poem in the collection… at the risk of copyright here goes…

For John Cowper Powys

The sad sea shell that murmurs all the day

Its memories faint; the lost, abandoned stone;

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George Bernard Shaw saws wood

IMG_20160306_0001Found – a sepia photo of George Bernard Shaw sawing wood. The photo measures 8 inches by 6 and on the back is written “GBS 88th birthday”. It was probably a press  photo taken in the grounds of his garden at Ayot St Lawrence.  It was 1944 and nine of his  plays were staged in London during that year – he was undergoing a revival in his popularity but was concentrating mainly on journalism…He died six years later at the age of ninety-four of complications precipitated by injuries incurred by falling while pruning a tree. The hat  looks Russian, possibly leather, and is rather splendid.

Jane Deverson—the forgotten poet who invented Generation X

generation X book titleIf you Google Jane Deverson all you will find is that she was the journalist, who with Charles Hamblett, invented the catchy term ‘Generation X’  to describe the disaffected youth born just after the close of the Second World War. Today they are better known as ‘ Baby Boomers ‘, but back in 1963, when she co-wrote the feature in question for the magazine ‘Woman’s Own’, that particular label had not yet been invented. Anyway, Generation X sounds a lot cooler. A book followed in 1964 and it was a copy of this, which budding punk Billy Idol found in his mother’s home, that inspired him to form a band with the same name.

Fast forward eight years to 1972 and the thirty-two year old publishes Night Edge, a collection of distinctly visceral poems whose imagery often recalls the nihilism of Ted Hughes’ Crow, which had appeared two years earlier:

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Bermuda’s Coral Strand

Found- a handwritten poem. Not sure where it came from but it looks about 90+ years old. The anonymous author calls it ‘doggerel’ in his closing lines. William Plomer might have called it ‘Tough Verse.’ The style is of the stand-up ‘dramatic monologue’ as exemplified by Milton Hayes’s ‘There’s a one-eyed yellow idol to the north of Kathmandu…’ or possibly the Grenadier’s marching song (“Some talk of Alexander…’) The reference to fox-hunting in England may indicate the writer was a British expat.

"Bermuda's Coral Strand".

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I've heard of men tell of Clusium
And of the Chinese war,
Of troubles in the East and West,
Of Delhi and Cawnpore,
Of brave Horatius Cocles
Who battled hand to hand,
But never yet in all my days
Have I heard a single word of praise
Of Bermuda's Coral Strand.

2.

Now it does seem very strange to me
That such should be the case
For though there's not much of it
It's a very pretty place,
So, off my coat and up my sleeves
And with my pen in hand
I'll call the Muse to my aid and write
Doggerel verses with all my might
Of Bermuda's Coral Strand.

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Joan Abbay – Art & The Holy Grail

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Found —  a slim volume of poetry from 1927 Lodequest: A Ballad of the Grail (Ancient House, Ipswich 1927) by Herbert Hudson. His wife produced the illustrated cover and also contributed one of the poems. She was Joan Abbay an East Anglian artist, and this is the only example of her work currently online, although it is possible some of her paintings are occasionally sold at auction.

The introduction to the book places the Grail legend in context, quoting from Jessie L Weston’s The Quest of the Holy Grail (1913)- (also an influence on a somewhat better known poem*):

“Every student of mediaeval literature will bear witness that there were strange current stirring in those days, that more was believed,that more was known than the official guardians of faith and morals cared to admit; that much, very much of this undercurrent of yearning and investigation was concerned with the search for the source of life; life physical, and life immortal. I contend that the Grail romances were a survival that period of unrest….The secret of the Grail I hold to be above all a human problem. When seekers after Truth will consent to work together in harmony, doing full justice to each other’s views, then,and not till then, the secret of the Grail will cease to be a secret.” Continue reading

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Action list from John Osborne

Found in Christoper Herold’s Mistress to an Age. A Life of Madame de Stael (Hamish Hamilton, London 1959) a list scribbled on the front endpaper. The book came from the library of the playwright John Osborne (1929 – 1994). It has a posthumous book label reading ‘From The Library  of the Hurst. The John Osborne Arvon Centre Shropshire.’ The Hurst was his final residence – a large country house, now a cultural centre owned by the Arvon foundation. The writings are Osborne’s notes to himself about changes possibly needed (or not) in his life.

Handwritten  notes-to-self are not uncommon in second hand books, although they tend to be in self-improvement or psychological/ spiritual works. In a jot from 2013 we show a copy of  48 Laws of Power with notes by King of Pop Michael Jackson. The connection with Osborne and Madame de Stael is obscure. Osborne appears never to have referred to her in a play.. He has a few notes about her on the rear endpaper: ’How that girl plays at sensibility writing letters from room to room..’ He notes a quotation from Voltaire about Diderot: ‘No one has ever written more amusingly on famine.’

He also highlights something that Madame de Stael wrote to her husband -‘What I love about noise is that it camouflages life..’ His biographer writes that Osborne had a life-long hatred of noise, often writing complaining letters about it. This action list /cri de coeur probably comes from a period in the 1980s when he was at a low ebb, especially as his film production company (Woodfall) which had (1970s) made a fortune from the worldwide success of Tom Jones (he wrote the script) appeared to be in a serious financial mess. The endpaper notes read:

1. Sex

2. Desire to work

3. No desire to work

4. Whether to give up work altogether. 

5. Desire to do something else altogether. Pure leisure e.g.

6. Decision to give up drink

7. Decision to go on drinking and resign to an early grave.

8. Decision to change way of life and live sober/ industrious (illegible) life  dedicated to self-improvement and tough grappling with all problems mostly   (illegible)

9. Give up Woodfall

10. Not give up Woodfall for reasons of sentiment, cowardice and expenditure

11. Seek new place in which to lead better, less wasteful life

12. Stay put

13. Go on holiday.

14. Stay put.

15. No. More (illegible – cats?)

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Fashionistas (1789)

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Found – a scrapbook of press-cuttings mostly from the Irish newspaper the Cork Gazette. This cutting dates from about 1789. They are mostly taken up with oddities, strange wagers (can a walking man cover 20 miles faster than a walking horse?*) horrible executions, feats, obituaries, a letter from Dean Swift, marriages of royals etc., This piece about current extreme fashions is an example of the  slightly sensational journalism of the time…

Fashion

This most whimsical of all human inventions has undergone, within these few years the most unaccountable changes imaginable, nor is she yet at rest but, with Protean wantonness, every day affirms the new form, leaving a gaping world in pursuit of her. One no sooner catches her, than she escapes, then presents herself under a different form, still more seducing and irresistible than the former.

One time she lets her head grow to the length of a cows tail, then cocks it – it sometimes flows loosely, and others nicely plaited and made into tresses – she soon prides in frizzing, and after that falls down by the ears, hanging like a pound of candles – her  present frolic is a crop, which for aught we know be soon metamorphosed into a shorn head.

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An ‘innocent hoax’ played on Frank Kermode

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The late Frank Kermode is best known today as the most prominent Romantic critic in twentieth century English letters—a more intelligent version of Herbert Read. Among rare book traders he is also notorious as the man who, in 1996, lost most of his collection, which included some valuable first editions, to the refuse collectors of Cambridge City Council, who, mistaking them for rubbish, disposed of them in the city tip. It seems that Mr Kermode was prone to absent mindedness where books were concerned. In an article of October 1973 from the Haining archive that appeared in The Daily Telegraph he recounts how he somehow lost his ‘whole collection, including The Darkening Ecliptic ‘on his trip home from Australia in 1945.

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Literary scams and pitfalls (1906)

Found in The Fingerpost: A Guide to Professions for Educated Women, with Information as to Necessary Training (Central Bureau for the Employment of Women. 1906) an article called 'Literary Catchpennies' which outlines various scams played on would be writers of the time. Some of these scams, often for bigger stakes, are still with us on the web.

Literary Catchpennies

The perennial literary advertisement trick is, perhaps, the most specious of all. A "Publishing Firm" will offer to consider MSS. sent to Box so-and-so at the offices of the paper in which the advertisements appears. Or the advertisement asks for some specified requires a fee; sometimes he merely swallows all the MSS. sent to him and is heard of no more. A plausible gentleman, with an office in London, extracted from a struggling authoress of my acquaintance a fee of 10s. 6d. for the purpose of making copies of a little tale of hers for the American Press. Another required a specimen of already existing work as a "proof of competency," before employment. With wary caution a printed specimen was submitted, which was duly returned, with a word of approval and with an article taken from a Nonconformist journal - a sketch of some famous preacher - which the applicant for employment was required to paraphrase and return. This being done the MSS. apparently vanished into space for upon a visit of inquiry being made to the address mentioned in the advertisement, the advertiser's name was unknown! Again, a budding composer advertised for "Lyrics." A little poem on "Daffodils" was sent to him. After a weary wait, a gentlemanly young man called on my friend to explain that out of hundreds of lyrics though which he had waded hers was the only good for anything. He asked permission to set it to music and promised to pay a small sum - with many apologies for the smallness. A few days later came - not the small sum - but a tortured love song of Elizabethan or Stuart period. That is to say a phrase here and there was given with dashes in between. These gaps were to be filled up with suitable words. This curious piece of literary patchwork being done, it joined the Daffodil lyric - in oblivion. What budding authoress has not sent precious MSS. to advertised "Literary agencies" with timid hopes that the agent's joyful acceptance of them - together with the "unusual deposit" for "placing same" - will set her free on the first step of the ladder of fame. If the MSS. is "placed" the deposit may nicely counterbalance the price secured for the article plus the commission to the agency; or, more probably at some pains and after some delays the article may be rescued by the author - minus the deposit. Since, however, no author is entirely comment to judge of the selling value of his work, it may reasonably be supposed that a properly conducted literary agency could serve a useful purpose in introducing the budding author to his public. The unfortunate thing is that the budding author generally pays dearly before he discovers that the really bona-fide agency has little need to advertise daily in a score of papers for "suitable MSS."

Other pitfalls to unwary persons "who can write" are the advertisements offering prizes in competitions for more or less intricate word spinning. It is hardly necessary to utter warnings against these, for they appeal mostly to the enterprising speculative sort of person, in whom the gambling instant is not strictly suppressed. It may be noted, however, that "prizes" won in such conceptions seldom pay the competitor for the trouble involved in winning them. They certainly do not pay the genuine work seeker.

Fortunes to Order

Answers to much-advertised offers to teach the work seeker "How to make a fortune" generally result in the return of a fascinating booklet, detailing with the utmost gravity the "trade secrets" of some industry which is sure to be entirely foreign to the fortune seeker's taste or capacity. Two such treatises are before me; one has to do with allotment gardening and the other with pastry making. When all the "ifs" and "ands" are counted the reader comes to the conclusion that although the advertiser's experiences might be genuine a fortune would be much more quickly made by writing a similar booklet and selling it in thousands at 1s. or 1s. 6d., than by rolling out any of the precepts contained therein.  

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I once met….John Heath-Stubbs

John Heath-Stubbs by Patrick Swift

Coming across a copy of a relatively recent booklet entitled The Guide to Bayswater (Sunrise Press) I turned to the page on Artesian wells which  accounted for much of the water supply to Bayswater in the early nineteenth century. The next entry was on Artesian Road, which reminded me of a visit to the poet and critic John Heath-Stubbs circa 1994. I think I must have got his address and phone number from Who’s Who.

I knew little about him as a person, apart from the fact that he was blind and had a very large head. I didn’t much enjoy his poetry, but was interested in hearing his views on Geoffrey Grigson, on whom I was writing a biography-- not because either of them had seriously clashed in print or in person, but because Heath-Stubbs was part of the neo-Romantic reaction to Auden and his generation, of which Grigson was a member, and also perhaps because the latter had violently attacked two neo-romantic poets—George Barker and Dylan Thomas, and inter alia their literary mentor, Edith Sitwell.

Looking back over twenty years, all I can recall of our conversation was the fact that Heath-Stubbs defended the poetic aesthetic of Sitwell, which I had decried, and that he showed a degree of irritation with the more extreme manifestations of neo-romanticism.
He also urged me to read his recently published autobiography, Hindsights, which alas, I had failed to do.

But what impressed me the most about this very remarkable man, whose head was indeed enormous, was the way he coped with his blindness. I had never before interviewed a blind man—indeed I had never been inside the home of one. Something I did find bizarre was the fact that as someone who had been totally blind for nearly forty years, he had pictures on his wall.Unless these had been hung when he had had some residual vision, their presence seemed pointless. I was also appalled by the large and obviously dangerous holes in his carpets. Why had no-one urged him to install brand new ones? These might have incurred some expense, but tripping up on a threadbare carpet could have killed or seriously injured the poet. It then occurred to me that as a blind man it was in his interest to know where all the potential dangers in his home were located, and these included holes in carpets. I was also impressed by the ease with he made me a cup of coffee, although the mug was left balancing precariously on the edge of a table. I later learnt that he often cooked for his guests—and did it well—so for him making a coffee must have been a simple task. I also noticed, as so many others had done, before and since, the evidence of spilt food and drink on his clothes.

Just before I left, a much younger man let himself into the house. He was clutching some books, I seem to recall, and I assumed that this was his friend and housekeeper, the legendary Eddie Linden, who was in the habit of reading to him.
[R.M.Healey.]

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Amateur Journalism and Vanity Publishing (1880)

Found - Journals and Journalism (with a guide for literary beginners) published by the Leadenhall Press (London 1880.) The author is stated as 'John Oldcastle' - a pseudonym of Wilfrid Meynell (1852-1948) who became a newspaper publisher and editor. It is likely that the book appeared because at the time journalism was all the rage, like photography in the 1960s or developing apps now…It is full of good advice, occasionally caustic in tone, and starts out with a warning to 'amateurs'. The final part of this extract from the first chapter deals with vanity publishing scams, and refers to an amusing scandal when one scammer sued another. These 'bubbles' were then common and are still with us on the internet. The entire text can be found at Brewster Kahle's incredible expanding Internet Archive.

Even more fatally amateurish is the practice, not uncommon with beginners, of addressing a more or less gushing note to an editor, disclaiming any wish for remuneration, and intimating that the honour of appearing in his valuable paper is all the reward that is asked. A contribution that is worth printing is worth paying for; and to an established paper the trifling sum due for any ordinary article is a matter of no consequence whatever — a mere drop in the bucket of printing and editorial expenses.In the case of a new paper, not backed by much capital, it is different.Gratuitous contributions may there be welcome ; but such a paper will hardly live; nor, if it did, would there be much prestige attached to an appearance in its pages. Besides, the offer of unremunerated labour to an experienced editor will often, and legitimately, be resented. He feels that an attempt is being made to bribe him, and, however absurd the bribe, the idea is not pleasant. There is, in a word, only one fair and sufficient test of capacity in literature as in the other arts, and that is the test of competition in the open market. Our old friends Supply and Demand ...are the only trustworthy umpires in the matter...

As to the style of amateurs, though we have just spoken of freshness as their possible characteristic, the curious fact is that, contrary to natural expectation, they generally write more conventionally than the hacks of journalism. The amateur sets himself too energetically to keep the trodden ways ; he is too timid to allow any originality which he may possess to assert itself; and it is only when he is familiar with the necessary laws that he gives himself a desirable ease and liberty in non-essentials.

Finally, let amateurs beware of " amateur magazines," and of agencies for the profitable placing of literary work. These are generally bubbles — bubbles that will burst as soon as they are pricked with a silver or a golden pin. Some years ago an action was brought by one of these amateur associations against another ; and a number of dreadful young men of nineteen, with long hair, and spectacles, appeared in court as plaintiffs and defendants. No doubt the original promoters of such an organisation traded to good purpose on the credulity and ambition of the provincial and the young, beginning with a profession of philanthropy, and ending with a request for a subscription. They soon had their imitators, however ; the monopoly was broken, the spoils divided; and what with the exposure resulting from their internal dissensions, and the bitter individual experience of the thousands who lent willing ears and purses to their allurements, we may hope that their occupation is now gone.

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Live poetry 1967 (Pete Roche)

Found - a 1967 Corgi paperback Love, love, love: the new love poetry. It was edited by Pete Roche the subject of a recent jot where he wrote disparagingly of the Cavern Club (1964). Three years later in the height of the Hippie era we find him editing this attractive book with psychedelic covers by Haphash and the Coloured Coat. His introduction celebrates the revival of 'live' poetry - which is still going strong. There follows a poem by him, other contributors included Adrian Henri, Adrian Mitchell, Roger McGough, Carlyle Reedy, Libby Houston, Spike Hawkins, Brian Patten...

… the recent increase in the popularity of poetry readings, particularly among younger people. The success in this respect of the Liverpool poets (all of whom are included here) and of what has been called The Great Liverpool Experiment have already been well documented. But this new interest in oral poetry is by no means confined to Merseyside: the readings organised by Tom Pickard in Newcastle, by Alan Jackson in Edinburgh, by Mike Horovitz and Pete Brown in London and the growing number of readings in other towns and cities throughout the country - all bear witness to the increasing demand for living poetry, poetry that talks to people in the direct and comprehensible way. It is no coincidence that virtually all of the poets in this book, when discussing their work, are quick to stress the value of these live performances. 

And it is this quite novel situation - young poets reading their work to predominantly young audiences - that is giving the poetry of the mid-sixties its distinctive character, is investing it (whatever faults in technique one may find in  individual poems) with a vigour and a feeling for the realities of life that have been absent from English poetry for too long. 

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Stella Gibbons parodies modernist poetry (1921)

Found in a  University of London College magazine from December 1921 this poem/ parody by the novelist Stella Gibbons. She was 19 at the time and had just begun a two-year Diploma in Journalism at UCL. The course had been established for ex-servicemen returning from the First World War, but attracted several women, including another future novelist - Elizabeth Bowen. After a spell as a caustic book reviewer at The Lady her first book (poetry) was published in 1930, and in 1932 her masterpiece Cold Comfort Farm appeared. This, too, was a parody (of the current 'loam and lovechild' school of rural novelists.) The writers parodied are mostly somewhat forgotten: Mary Webb, Sheila Kaye-Smith, Eden Philpotts - although D.H. Lawrence and Thomas Hardy did not escape her mirth. In this piece modernist poets (T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound?) are mocked..

The Marshes of My Soul
(With  apologies to the latest School of Decoratively- Melancholy Introspectives.)

I.
Brackish …brackish,
The Pools of Weariness, flung in a glimmering chain
Reach the horizon.
And my thoughts, like purple parrots
Brood
In the sick, light trees 
Blowing above those shallow pools
In whorls and whorls
Noiselessly 
Printing a monotonous pattern upon the heavy air
Like watery curves upon the silken robe of a dying Mandarin.

II.
I am a peg, pinning up
Nebulous shadows of half guessed moods
Along the clothesline of "Let's-be-Clever."
Sometimes (ah - rape of the Muse by the cold fingered--) 
Doubt takes me.
I wonder
If all these mists and moods and parrots mean 
Much?
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Donald Davie & the poetry scene (1963)

Found in a copy of New & Selected Poems by Donald Davie (Wesleyan University Press, 1961) a handwritten letter from the author. A good newsy letter that gives a snapshot of the  Oxford and transatlantic poetry scene of the early 1960s. It is to Fred Hunter founder of Independent Radio News, teacher of journalism and something of a poetaster and friend of many of the Sixties and Liverpool poets. He also had a poetry record label (Stream Records) which in 1967 put out an L.P. of the American poet Dorn reading from his North Atlantic Turbine. The letter reads:

[Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge]. June 18th 1963.

Dear Mr. Hunter,

I was touched and pleased to have your request from yourself and Mr. S. Raut Roy. I have today dispatched the books to you - don't send them on to India before taking out your own two copies!

I know Jonathan William, by name of course and I believe he was lately entertained by my young colleague Jeremy Prynne, to whom I am chiefly indebted for my knowledge of the Projective Verse poets, who seem to me to represent the only plausible growing-point for Anglo-American poetry. Olson I esteem chiefly as a theorist, Duncan's work I hardly know, but Creeley's I admire very much. We would link with him Edward Dorn whose very distinguished collection in typescript we are at present (Prynne and I) trying to place with a London publisher - but with predictably little success. 

I am having great difficulty about completing a new collection of poems which will represent in some degree the sympathy I feel for some of the Projective Verse methods. But this business of doubling up as poet and don is quite hopeless! 

Again, I'm grateful.

Yours sincerely, 
Donald Davie
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“GOING! Going! Gone!”

Found – an obscure work by Robert Power, a forgotten journalist. In the 1920s and up to the early 1950s his short ‘thought pieces’ were syndicated in the UK and as far as Australia. This tradition of coffee break columns is still with us – now it’s Robert Crampton rather than Robert Power but it may not continue much longer…There is no real equivalent online. This is from his Two-minute talks (Vol 2)  S. W. Partridge (London,1925) and still has some relevance in the time of eBay. Other ‘talks’ have titles such as ‘Poppy Friendships’, ‘Blistering Tongues’, ‘In the W.P.B.’, ‘Rich Poverty’, ‘Are you Popular?’, ‘Poachers’ and ‘Rubbernecks.’

"GOING! GOING!"

"GOING! Going! Gone!" cries the auctioneer and brings down his mallet with a sharp rap to declare that opportunity to purchase has passed for all save the highest bidder.

The auctioneer emphasises the desirability of the goods he offers. In seductive language he paints the picture of a bargain that must be seized at once. Prudence struggles with desire in the mind of the keen bargain hunter, but time is limited, and if he lingers in indecision too long, the descending hammer puts a period to his vacillation.

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