Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Simon Turner - "A Lean Year", or "Why John Burnside's Thoughts on Contemporary Poetry are Almost Irredeemably Beef-Witted & Unwarranted"

Okay, so to give Burnside his due, his old man whingeing about the state of contemporary poetry (which you can read here, three entries down after Nicola Sturgeon and Ed Balls) is at variance with the usual script of "There's far too much poetry being published these days!", which we normally have to put up with from the embattled old guard.  But the sentiment underpinning his intervention - that the gatekeepers have effectively been sleeping on the job, letting the barbarians through - remains the same.  As many have pointed out on the twittersphere - is that the right term now? - 2017 has been something of a bumper year for poetry, particularly from smaller independent presses.  I, for one, have more than enough new poetry on my 'to read' list to last me at least for the next decade, and even then I feel like I've barely scratched the surface of what's been published this year.  To describe it as 'lean' suggests either astonishing ignorance of the plethora that's available or, more likely, it's just the passive-aggressive growling of wounded supremacy.  Either way, it's neither helpful nor required.  Given that there are plenty of other contributors to the Staggers' end of year list who pretty comprehensively undercut Burnside's untenable claim - nice to see Andrew Marr giving Eyewear a heads-up, for example, whilst Neel Mukherjee's given me a good idea for a stocking-filler in the form of Brian Blanchfield's essays (because you can never have too many essays in your house) - I'd recommend you look to the positive in this instance. 
Anyway, that's more than enough time spent on a very silly outburst from a very boring poet.  Time to listen to some more Public Enemy and get really stuck into Fiends Fell from Tom Pickard.  TTFN! 


Anonymous said...

Name some of the bloody books then!

The Editors said...

You know what, I think I will.

(And for the record, this list is hardly exhaustive, and didn't take long to put together: others no doubt would have a whole host of other things that have crossed their radar and excited them over the last few months. I should add, too, that omissions aren't indicative of censure; I was just aiming for the representative. If anyone's got some recommends, please share in further comments, as there's always something new to discover!):

Chris Torrance, The Magic Door
Chrissy Williams, Bear
Danez Smith, Don’t Call Us Dead
Emily Berry, Stranger, Baby
Hera Lindsay Bird, Hera Lindsay Bird
Ishion Huthcinson, House of Lords and Commons
Jenna Clake, Fortune Cookie,
Jorie Graham, Fast
Julia Bird, Now You Can Look
Karen McCarthy Woolf, Seasonal Disturbances
Kayo Chingonyi, Kukukanda
Khairani Barokka, Rope
Layli Long Soldier, WHEREAS
Maria Apichella, Psalmody
Michael O’Brien, To the River
Nia Davies, All Fours
Noelle Kocot, Sonnets
Ocean Vuong, Night Sky With Exit Wounds
Patricia Lockwood, Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals
Penguin Modern Poets: ongoing series
Peter Hughes, Cavalcanty
Rishi Dastidar, Ticker-tape
Sidekick Books’ ‘Head’ series (Bad Kid Catullus, esp, kicks it)
Simon Armitage, The Unaccompanied
Sinead Morrissey, On Balance
Stairs and Whispers: D/deaf and disabled poets write back
Tara Bergin, The Tragic Death of Eleanor Marx
Ten: Poets of the New Generation
Tom Pickard, Fiends Fell

Best wishes,

Simon @ G&P