Friday 28 August 2009

Brian Jones

I missed this last week – an obituary of the poet Brian Jones. The above is one of his first two books, 1968, published by London Magazine Editions (which, with their brown card covers – ‘like wholemeal sandwiches’ said The Times – were and still are the role model for CBe). Before this one there was Poems (1966) – one of the most straightforward titles ever. The descriptions of the copies for sale on abebooks are apposite: strong spine and clean text throughout, edges rubbed, pages a little age-toned. The poems themselves are still fresh, strong, packed with both love and a kind of baffled anger. About the above book he wrote: ‘I am convinced that poetry can still cope with narrative . . . It need not be forced to explore exclusively personal or extreme states of mind or feeling . . . I have tried to be colloquial, and at the same time to make no sacrifices of subtlety and depth. As the poem is born out of a great admiration and respect for my own, unliterary family, I wished to make it accessible . . .’

I came across Jones’s first books in my teens: they were among those that showed me poetry is worth the candle. I’m annoyed that I’ve paid no attention to his later books (published by Carcanet). He’s not on any syllabus, I think, and he was never promoted to the premier league, but there are other ways in which minor poets can still be major.

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