Elephant stamps, Rilke and so on ~ theatre notes

Friday, January 19, 2007

Elephant stamps, Rilke and so on

A nice cheery elephant stamp, in fact, and maybe a gold star as well. TN is chuffed today to hear that one of my posts has been chosen by Opinion Online in the Best Blogs of 2006 feature they're running all through January. Chris Bendall might not be so pleased: it is The Problem of Praise post that caused much debate at the time. And (whisper) I believe there's another coming up. Thanks to the guys who called it, Ken Parish, Nicholas Gruen et al. Especially Al.

Of course, this happens while the blog is relatively quiet. As you all know, I am supposed to be writing my novel, and have in fact been getting some steady chapters under my belt; but for the past couple of days I have been sidelined by an essay on Rilke for the UK poetry magazine Agenda, which is also publishing a couple of my translations of his Duino Elegies in its upcoming Rilke special issue. It's a blast to return to this poet, who reminds me what the lyric art is supposed to be: tough, beautiful, intelligent and brave.

Meanwhile, I've been following the Guardian debate on friendships between artists and critics, begun by Jonathan Jones' claim that artists and critics are too much in each other's pockets, and who wants to be friends with narcissistic wankers like artists, anyway? Michael Billington weighs in with some measured opinion, much of which is difficult to argue with, but visual arts critic Adrian Searle is on the money.

"I prefer the company of artists to that of most critics," says Searle. "Artists can more cruel about each other than any critic I have ever met, and just as hungry and insightful when it comes to looking at art. They know more about how art gets made, are sharper when comes to detecting when someone is faking it, and more generous about genuine failure." And his article comes with a sting in the tail: "although I am on amicable terms with some other critics, I realise I have no friends at all in the newspaper world. I take care to keep a distance, in case I get compromised or corrupted, or turned into a hack."

Very wicked.


CoirĂ­ FilĂ­ochta said...

Artists can be more cruel than a cardinal sin of "bad art" said

He dabbled with your Ode

Even the air no longer greets us.
Differently - pinching our dream
to wake a skin of words beyond us.
Killing mouths of men who love
work simple sorcery in things no
longer extant.

Speak difficult magic and say

"A clump of cities we understood came back tender of hand."

We know magic tricks lift the
world, grasp a glass, the street
vanished wind in their place - blew petals shoes and slender puddles
sparking brick wire and hole.

We whirr when no words swell silence
hear noise and water no dead dream.

Flowers will golden like snow lily, hyacinth, summer colour of amaranth evenings and a lone call. Here lies
bleeding the dream I grew in a yard
of daisies glimpsed through the
shabby window. Marigolds glowing on
stalks bobbing a net of anemones in
the weed garden mostly. I never
dream of red - rise a seven-petalled head and weave the
flower called wind Pliny named.

Only scatter. Whirl over every

Anonymous said...

Sorry but what do you mean by that, irish poets?

Alison Croggon said...

Mysterious indeed. Quite a lot of it is one of my poems put through a vitamiser with a dash of Michael Billington. Confusing perhaps to TN readers, but hardly cruel...

Anonymous said...

What, did Michael Billington rework your poem, or did irish poets do a makeover? Tres confusing.

I loved that poem by the way, I still have it ready to pull out in a voice class this year sometime.