The Page
poetry, essays, ideas
"The violent relationship between Ashbery’s poem and the great number of real-life rivers it lists shocked me. I was amused by the satire of the travel writer’s weirdly unpicturable observations. But that couldn’t fully explain the poem’s power. This poetry’s relationship with the world was different from that of more familiar poems, which generally tried to describe the world by describing it. In Ashbery’s poem, the tension between the descriptions of the rivers, and what I knew about the rivers, produced a third thing, flickering between experience and imagination." Caleb Klaces on Ben Lerner • Poetry London
"In an unpublished review of Sylvia Plath’s Letters Home, Bishop wrote: “Of course one can’t really ‘review’ letters, or criticise them – at least, not perhaps the way a play, a novel, or poetry can be reviewed or criticised”. The scholarly contributors to Letter Writing Among Poets argue that letters merit as much critical attention as texts in other genres, and that poets’ letters reward particular scrutiny." Nancy Campbell • TLS
"As G.K. Chesterton’s hero Father Brown put it in one story: Where does a wise man hide a pebble? On a beach; and where does a wise man hide a corpse? On a battlefield. Many pebbles, it is believed, have been hidden on this particular beach. And you can imagine the variety of pretexts there would be for revenge—old insults, rivalries, a sense of injured merit, matters of love and sex." James Fenton • NYRB
"Take, for example, the word Ginsterlicht, from the poem “Matière de Bretagne” (Michael Hamburger translates it as “Gorselight”): it seems to refer to light traveling through the twigs of the genista plant, and all the translators whose work is examined in this volume use “lumière de genet” or “lumière du genet” (p. 269). However, Jean-Pierre Lefebvre underlines the importance of landscape to this poem, and Dueck herself explores the associations between the genista plant and the location of Saarbrücken on the German-French border, where Neue Bremm, the Nazi torture camp, was located, in 1943-1944. Bremm issues from Old High German, and signifies “thorn.”" Ottilie Mulzet • Asymptote
"Inside History may not quite achieve new readings, but it registers the need for something to change in the reception of Boland’s work. That might entail distinguishing between what her poems say about themselves and what they are doing linguistically and formally. It might also entail reading against the grain of Boland’s manifestos. To what extent has she challenged “founding ideologies”? Virginia Woolf said that a woman has no country. Boland’s poems constantly mention “my country”, the “nation”." Edna Longley Irish Times
"Jeffrey Wainwright’s work is among the most interesting of any poet now writing. Although he has an admiring readership, he has stayed under the radar much of the time, pursuing a line of poetic inquiry that links him to writers as various as Geoffrey Hill, Roy Fisher, Tony Harrison and even Charles Tomlinson (who like Wainwright was from the Potteries) – all of them in various ways historian-poets." Sean O'Brien Guardian
"In Salamanca, as the nationalists crowed in victory, Unamuno faced down the cries of General José Millán Astray, ‘death to intelligence! Long live death!’ Unamuno is reputed to have replied, ‘this is the temple of intelligence, and I am its high priest. You are profaning its sacred domain. You will win, but you will not convince (vencéreis, pero no convencéreis).’" Karl O'Hanlon • Eborakon
"In the matter of poetry and politics, I used to keep saying that poetry has to be political and take the public world seriously. I still think that, but I now think too that it is more gracious to see art, poetry, literature, all those things, as having their own value and what Seamus Heaney called ‘jurisdiction’." Bernard O'Donoghue • Faber
"Helping to keep his hand in, the influence of the daily rhythms of correspondence on the real writing, when it came, should not be underestimated. Beckett was also surprisingly relaxed about sharing that writing with correspondents. A letter to Jérôme Lindon launches without preamble into an extract from a work in progress, while many letters break into poetry (his “doggerelizings” of Chamfort, and the Mirlitonnades), not to mention an Irish variation on an obscene Kurt Vonnegut limerick (“There was on old man from Kilcool, / Who soliloquised thus to his tool . . .”)." David Wheatley TLS
"And this is where Polley’s collection achieves so much. The poems take images in nature, or moments of a day, or the cycle of a wing beat and make us experience them like we are right there inside each one." Joe Carrick-Varty • Manchester Review
"Over coffee in a Cork city hotel, O’Donoghue says he has always felt like a bit of an exile in the UK. “Not an unwelcome exile, but that has all been shaken up by Brexit. It has changed how people feel about the world and how outsiders feel about England.”" Colette Sheridan • Irish Examiner
"The poems work fine without knowledge of the literary pedigree of such lines. However, for anyone who has more than a passing acquaintance with the Irish literary and song tradition they are an added enjoyment, giving depth and resonance to the poems." Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill • Irish Times
"But he has brought something to birth for all of us, by that grace he celebrated, something inescapably ethical in a way given to few poets of our age. Here we are to try and echo both the turning of things about in words and the renunciation he spelled out for us." Rowan Williams on Geoffrey Hill • PN Review
"Yeats’s example in The Green Helmet seems to have provided Hill with a way of drawing out the tooth of satire that Ibsen buried into the elaborate and legendary flesh of his Romantic picaresque. Yeats’s irregular heptameter in the 1910 play, likely a fusion of Chapman’s Homer and elements of William Morris, is the beginning of his famous enterprising ‘nakedness’, what Ezra Pound described as the end to ‘glamourlets and mists and fogs’ and the entry into his work of ‘hard light’." Karl O'Hanlon • The Literateur
"To describe Stevie Smith’s voice as unmistakable is to imply, perhaps uncharitably, that she did not much evolve from her first collection of poems in 1937 (A Good Time Was Had by All) to her last book released posthumously in 1972 (Scorpion and Other Poems). Nor is the charge wholly inaccurate." Florian Gargaillo • Chicago Review
"Starting in their early twenties, however, their favorite pastime was whipping off songs. Modiano could produce complete lyrics as fast as he could jot them down, and Courson composed the melodies almost as quickly. They rarely spent half an hour before arriving at a finished product. How, I asked, did he and Modiano work? Did they discuss ideas, or did Modiano present him with a text? It could be either, Courson said, but it was mostly a matter of turning a poem into a song. “Patrick has no sense of music. I wouldn’t rewrite his lyrics, out of respect for his idea, but sometimes I’d add or trim a few words to create a rhyme or a beat.”" Peter de Jonge • Harpers
"Yet in the half-century since the British critic Al Alvarez championed, then eulogized, “the new poetry” — the confessionals — the idealism sustaining poetry as a vocation has been upstaged by melodrama. One might well wonder if there is a correlation. Biographies of poets now tend to serve a purpose much like the conductor who came staggering through my halted subway car on the morning of September 11, 2001: “People are dead, folks. Go home and hug your children.” Did you think you would write beautiful, immortal verses? “People are dead, folks.” Did you think literature was a higher calling that would bestow meaning on existence? “Go home and hug your children.” Perhaps you might merely become famous, well-off, and get laid a lot?" Ange Mlinko • Poetry
"Brodsky’s relationship with the Empire was significantly more complex and multifaceted than dictated by the iconic Russian formula of the Poet and Power. In Brodsky’s case, this meant using the word to overcome the word. It was the overriding of communal words, catchphrases which had been depreciated and prostituted, by words that were personal, metabolic, and cryptic. Brodsky’s individual style seemed externally to accept the imperial, totalitarian format, and his verse is quite traditional in form, but he bursts it open from the inside." Hamid Ismailov, tr, Shelley Fairweather-Vega • Critical Flame
"A poem that works as a conceptualisation of the ‘mystic writing pad’, that performs the same tasks of text framed and text erased is more of interest and activist relevance. I want to start working more with the mechanisms of ‘memory’. Freud writes in ‘A Note upon the ‘Mystic Writing Pad’ (1925 – I think it’s the Strachey translation: check): ‘The sheet is filled with writing, there is no room on it for any more notes, and I find myself obliged to bring another sheet into use, that has not been written on. Moreover, the advantage of this procedure, the fact that it provides a ‘permanent trace,’ may lose its value for me if after a time the note ceases to interest me and I no longer want to ‘retain it in my memory.’ I will not give this text the pleasure of the future of data, of the screen, of personal computing. Too many lies and exploitations of ‘nature’ and people in that (those mines, those mines … those previous metals … the destruction of entire eco-systems so we can have depth behind our screens, can call up memory as data, can hypertext our way into alternative truths, alternative geographies and ecologies …)." John Kinsella • Cordite
"No wedding rings, barely suppressed giggles during the mayor’s speech, no photos. We go have lunch at La Bûcherie, one of our meeting places, next to the Shakespeare & Co. bookstore, and there—surrealistic “objective chance”—we find Aragon in private conversation with Elsa Triolet. After he praised me to the skies for my first book, I saw Aragon several times, or rather I attended his interminable emphatic readings of his poems at his house." Philippe Sollers, tr. Armine Kotin Mortimer • Critical Flame
"“Once you’re in, you’re in forever,” says Kevin Young in a recent 
issue of Harvard Magazine (the quote excerpted from Young’s nonfiction book The Grey Album: On the Blackness of Blackness). He is speaking of the deservingly famous Dark Room Collective, of which I have been here and there listed as an early member. What the article in Harvard Magazine doesn’t mention — nor does any other piece I’ve read on the Dark Room — is how I was ousted from the group roughly six months after having been asked to join. I wasn’t officially kicked out; I’d say it was more that I was informed that I wasn’t welcome, and — this is a little fuzzier to pin down, but I felt it — the reason had to do with my not really being in step with the group’s agenda." Carl Phillips • Poetry

New poems

Rachael Allen Poetry London

Sharon Olds The Nation

Maureen N McLane Fatboy Review

Sarah J Sloat Sixth Finch

Joey Connolly Blackbox Manifold

Jacob Polley Guardian

David Wheatley PN Review

Mary Ruefle Poetry

Liz Berry Ambit

Miles Burrows The London Magazine

Simon Armitage New Statesman

Carl Phillips Poetry


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The Page is edited by John McAuliffe, Vincenz Serrano and, since September 2013, Evan Jones at the Centre for New Writing at the University of Manchester. It was founded in October 2004 by Andrew Johnston, who edited it until October 2009.
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