Thursday, 13 October 2011

Apollinaire: the back issue

Dodgy photos, but the first above is the cover of a 1968 issue of the London Magazine that I found in a crate outside a bookshop today. That’s Apollinaire with his friend AndrĂ© Rouveyre in a sequence of stills from a movie made in a coin-operated street booth in Paris in 1914 on the day the two of the them arrived in the city from Deauville, which happened also to be the day that general mobilisation was announced. Apollinaire signed on the dotted line and went to war and wrote the poems that will be in the CBe book early next next year, the French on the left and BB Brahic’s translations (she who translated the Ponge) on the right, and if your idea of ‘war poetry’ is over-conditioned by Wilfred Owen etc you may have to reconfigure. This is not, of course, an either/or thing; but mud-brown was not the only colour available, even in the trenches.

Apollinaire took a shrapnel wound in the head and died in 1918. 1968 is roughly halfway between then and where we are now.

These back-issues are always disorientating. There’s a heart-felt review of a poet whose ‘achievement is in being able to use domestic detail as a liberating symbolism’ and whose book ‘is the product of of a poet concerned with the most difficult and intransigent areas of experience’ and whose name is now forgotten. In the August 1968 London Magazine, also picked up from that crate, Kingsley Amis and Michael Holroyd and William Trevor and Peter Porter and many others reply to a questionnaire about political engagement; and Christopher Logue is interviewed about his poster poems; and not only are there are seven poems by Douglas Dunn from his Terry Street, which would be published by Faber the next year, but also six pages on good gloss paper of photographs (the second above) of Terry Street by Bob Whitaker.

There’s a flyer included offering me 12 issues for a annual subscription of 60 shillings (£3): bargain.

You won’t get any of those Bob Whitaker photographs of Terry Street by googling him (I’ve tried). Nor do you get me on my circa 1970 bicycle pilgrimage from Leeds to Hull (it’s flat land, easy cycling) to park the bike in Terry Street and just look. There’s a fair amount you don’t get on google.

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