Tuesday 8 July 2014

Home & away

Just as CBe starts to make some kind of financial sense (sales last year were more than double the previous year’s), I wander off. If it was anyone else, I’d see a certain style in this.

CBe hasn’t shut up shop; I haven’t wandered off very far; but the landscape looks a little different. There is this: that the four most recent titles, published earlier this year – Agota Kristof’s The Notebook and The Illiterate, May-Lan Tan’s Things to Make and Break, Will Eaves’ The Absent Therapist – will be a hard act to follow. And now there is this: the unexpected (I mean that) consequence of taking time out (the Czech Republic in May, Sardinia in June/July; now home) is that I’ve started messing around with writing again – Jack is back, and I think Jennie too – after a long period of no writing at all, and writing takes time, and so does publishing, and so does finding and doing work that actually brings in money, and besides, the weather is fine.

Meanwhile, here is John Greening in this week’s Times Literary Supplement on Fergus Allen’s New & Selected Poems: ‘The pleasure that Fergus Allen takes in the “superior amusement” of making poems is evident throughout this handsome volume … Allen has learnt his trade well enough to shift from the playful to the erudite, from the grand style to the plain, without any loss of authority. The number of good opening lines alone is enviable: “The purpose of nettles is to make more nettles”, “Annie’s pubic hair was beyond a joke”, “Dark roles, my agent says they’re me”, “A solo glutton or wolverine”, “After the earthquake we decided to redecorate Hell”. The poems introduced by such lines are witty, humane, erotic, worldly-wise, sardonic, amiable, and overflowing with a true poet’s delight in language.’