Sunday 21 January 2024

Kenneth Patchen rides again

Kenneth Patchen (1911–72) is not a writer familiar to many British readers, even obsessive poetry readers, but he was important to Katy Evans-Bush in her teens – which is an age at which writers can be very important – and he was important to her again during that recent period of Covid lockdowns, lock-outs, lock-ups, cock-ups. The above photo (courtesy K E-B) shows in a nutshell, or a sweetie-box, the kindling process that led to her new collection, Joe Hill Makes His Way into the Castle. For that process spelled out, go to the page for her book on the CBe website and download the extract that gives you K E-B’s preface, and a note on Joe Hill, and a couple of the poems; and then, having got that far, buy the book. Which is officially published early in February.

Kenneth Patchen didn’t just write. Writers don’t just write. Politics were important, and music and love and coffee and bluebells, and he drew and painted. Below are some of Patchen’s book covers and his poems as artworks. (Thank you, Poetry Library at the Southbank Centre, a hugely important resource.)

Friday 12 January 2024

Dog days

Since Christmas the view down from my desk chair has been this – Reggie, a dachshund I am dog-sitting – and I have been a member of the club of dog-keeping small presses. Kevin Duffy of Bluemoose Books posts regular photos of Lottie. William Boyd recalls visiting the ‘small cramped offices’ of Alan Ross, editor of the London Magazine and of the London Magazine editions (the model for CB editions): ‘Books everywhere, of course, but there were two dogs sprawled under his desk …’ Ross published Auden’s ‘Talking to Dogs’ in a 1971 issue of the London Magazine: ‘From us, of course, you want gristly bones/ and to be led through exciting odourscapes –/ their colours don’t matter – with the chance/ of a rabbit to chase or of meeting/ a fellow arse-hole to nuzzle at …’

2024 books: Lara Pawson’s Spent Light publishes on 23 January; she will be in conversation with Jennifer Hodgson at the London Review bookshop on 24 January. Katy Evans-Bush’s Joe Hill Makes His Way into the Castle will publish on 6 February – available from the website now (as is Spent Light).

Coming in April: the first English translation of Paris by Jean Follain (1903–71), a French poet I hugely admire and have written about. And The End of Ends by the renowned Polish theatre director Tadeusz Bradecki, written in the last year of his life: a non-fiction book about story-telling and everything else which happens to include an embedded novel.

There are birthdays galore in January and the 10th anniversary of Studio ExPurgamento (co-publisher with CBe of Blush and The Camden Town Hoard) to continue celebrating: party at the Horse Hospital on 23 January, free entry but reserve a ticket on Eventbrite. A not-bad birthday prsent for yourself or anyone else is a Season Ticket (6 books for £45, 12 for £80, post-free) from the website home page.

From the US-based organisation Pleasure Pie you can download 10 free zines about Palestine. Begin with Gazan Youth Manifesto: ‘Fuck Hamas. Fuck Israel. Fuck Fatah. Fuck UN. Fuck UNWRA. Fuck USA! We, the youth in Gaza, are so fed up with Israel, Hamas, the occupation, the violations of human rights and the indifference of the international community […] We want to be free. We want to be able to live a normal life. We want peace. Is that too much to ask?’