Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Philip Larkin / The Auto-Erotic Portrait Photographer Incapable Of Love



Philip Larkin, the Auto-Erotic Portrait Photographer Incapable Of Love

Written by Sarah Freeman


All images from The Importance of Elsewhere: Philip Larkin’s Photographs, courtesy Frances Lincoln/Estate of Philip Larkin


A new photobook explores the iconic poet Philip Larkin’s life as a photographer, the portraits of himself and the various women in his life revealing a man equally capable of care and romance, calculation and misanthropy.

In a re-write of a letter titled Letter to a Friend About Girls, addressed to his long-term friend and Oxford contemporary Kingsley Amis, the poet Philip Larkin wrote:

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Czeslaw Milosz / The Captive Mind


Czeslaw Milosz
Poster de T.A.
The Captive Mind
by Czeslaw Milosz

I wonder how many books got sold or thrown out the year after the Soviet Union collapsed. My friend told me that his public library had shelves and shelves of books for sale written by political scientists during the Cold War, all trying to puzzle out what the Soviets were thinking. Most of them are temporary in the way that all such books are temporary, but I’m sure there is a great deal of intelligence there that is perhaps never going to see the light of day again, except by the occasional historian.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Bob Dylan is not the first songwriter to win the Nobel prize for literature

Bob Dylan


Bob Dylan is not the first songwriter to win the Nobel prize for literature


Amit Chaudhuri
Friday 21 October 2016 11.00 BST


The 1913 Nobel prize for literature was awarded to the Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore. His work, like Dylan’s, recreates tradition and crosses genres



A
mid the raucous cheering, disbelieving emojis and graceless carping that accompanied the awarding of the latest Nobel prize for literature, an unexamined claim was made several times: that this was the first time the prize had gone to a songwriter. A couple of newsreaders used the word “musician”, others the historical and more precise “singer-songwriter”; but mainly they stuck to “songwriter”. It struck me that the claim was wrong. The first (and the only other) songwriter the prize went to was the Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore, in 1913. It was given to him “because”, according to the citation, “of his profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse, by which, with consummate skill, he has made his poetic thought, expressed in his own English words, a part of the literature of the west”. The citation for Bob Dylan, which acknowledges him for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”, is different from but oddly reminiscent of the one from 1913, when honouring an Indian – someone located in the world of gurus and séances – must have seemed as puzzling as giving a “serious” prize to a pop musician. Little was known outside Bengal about Tagore, just as little, really, is known about Dylan. The citation from 1913 is already engaged in invention, making no mention of the fact that the “verse” is actually songs, or that they’re translations from Bengali. But Tagore translated the title of the book that got him the prize, Gitanjali, almost literally, as “Song Offerings” and it’s a compendium of lyrics turned by him into strange English prose poems, selected from three slim Bengali collections of songs – songs that are not only performed today day in Bengal, but performed ad nauseam.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Cesare Pavese / The Cats Will Know



The Cats Will Know
By Cesare Pavese
Translated By Geoffrey Brock


Rain will fall again
on your smooth pavement,
a light rain like
a breath or a step.
The breeze and the dawn
will flourish again
when you return,
as if beneath your step.
Between flowers and sills
the cats will know.

There will be other days,
there will be other voices.
You will smile alone.
The cats will know.
You will hear words
old and spent and useless
like costumes left over
from yesterday’s parties.

You too will make gestures.
You’ll answer with words—
face of springtime,
you too will make gestures.

The cats will know,
face of springtime;
and the light rain
and the hyacinth dawn
that wrench the heart of him
who hopes no more for you—
they are the sad smile
you smile by yourself.

There will be other days,
other voices and renewals.
Face of springtime,
We will suffer at daybreak.




Thursday, October 13, 2016

Bob Dylan / Nine Songs



NINE SONGS
by Bob Dylan
BIOGRAPHY

The Times They Are A-Changin’ (1963)

Come gather ‘round people where ever you roam
And admit that the waters around you have grown
And accept it that soon you’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone,
For the times they are a’ changin’!
Come writers and critics who prophesy with your pen
And keep your eyes wide the chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon for the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who that it’s namin’
For the loser now will be later to win
For the times they are a’ changin’!
Come senators, congressmen please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside and it’s ragin’
It’ll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls
For the times they are a’ changin’!
Come mothers and fathers throughout the land
And don’t criticize what you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters are beyond your command
Your old road is rapidly agin’
Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a’ changin’!

The line it is drawn the curse it is cast
The slow one now will later be fast
As the present now will later be past
The order is rapidly fadin’
And the first one now will later be last
For the times they are a’ changin’!

Like a Rolling Stone 

(Highway 61 Revisited, 1965)

Threw the bums a dime in your prime, didn’t you?
People call say ‘beware doll, you’re bound to fall’
You thought they were all kidding you
You used to laugh about
Everybody that was hanging out
Now you don’t talk so loud
Now you don’t seem so proud
About having to be scrounging your next meal
How does it feel, how does it feel?
To be without a home
Like a complete unknown, like a rolling stone
Ahh you’ve gone to the finest schools, alright Miss Lonely
But you know you only used to get juiced in it
Nobody’s ever taught you how to live out on the street
And now you’re gonna have to get used to it
You say you never compromise
With the mystery tramp, but now you realize
He’s not selling any alibis
As you stare into the vacuum of his eyes
And say do you want to make a deal?
How does it feel, how does it feel?
To be on your own, with no direction home
A complete unknown, like a rolling stone
Ah you never turned around to see the frowns
On the jugglers and the clowns when they all did tricks for you
You never understood that it ain’t no good
You shouldn’t let other people get your kicks for you
You used to ride on a chrome horse with your diplomat
Who carried on his shoulder a Siamese cat
Ain’t it hard when you discovered that
He really wasn’t where it’s at
After he took from you everything he could steal
How does it feel, how does it feel?
To have on your own, with no direction home
Like a complete unknown, like a rolling stone
Ahh princess on a steeple and all the pretty people
They’re all drinking, thinking that they’ve got it made
Exchanging all precious gifts
But you better take your diamond ring, you better pawn it babe
You used to be so amused
At Napoleon in rags and the language that he used
Go to him he calls you, you can’t refuse
When you ain’t got nothing, you got nothing to lose
You’re invisible now, you’ve got no secrets to conceal
How does it feel, ah how does it feel?
To be on your own, with no direction home
Like a complete unknown, like a rolling stone

Mr. Tambourine Man 

(Bringing It All Back Home, 1965)

Hey, Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me
I’m not sleepy and there ain’t no place I’m going to
Hey, Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me
In the jingle jangle morning I’ll come following you
Though I know that evenings empire has returned into sand
Vanished from my hand
Left me blindly here to stand but still not sleeping
My weariness amazes me, I’m branded on my feet
I have no one to meet
And the ancient empty street’s too dead for dreaming
Hey, Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me
I’m not sleepy and there ain’t no place I’m going to
Hey, Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me
In the jingle jangle morning I’ll come following you
Take me on a trip upon your magic swirling ship
My senses have been stripped
My hands can’t feel to grip
My toes too numb to step
Wait only for my boot heels to be wandering
I’m ready to go anywhere, I’m ready for to fade
Into my own parade
Cast your dancing spell my way, I promise to go under it
Hey, Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me
I’m not sleepy and there ain’t no place I’m going to
Hey, Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me
In the jingle jangle morning I’ll come following you
Though you might hear laughing, spinning, swinging madly through the sun
It’s not aimed at anyone
It’s just escaping on the run
And but for the sky there are no fences facing
And if you hear vague traces of skipping reels of rhyme
To your tambourine in time
It’s just a ragged clown behind
I wouldn’t pay it any mind
It’s just a shadow you’re seeing that he’s chasing
Hey, Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me
I’m not sleepy and there ain’t no place I’m going to
Hey, Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me
In the jingle jangle morning I’ll come following you
Take me disappearing through the smoke rings of my mind
Down the foggy ruins of time
Far past the frozen leaves
The haunted frightened trees
Out to the windy bench
Far from the twisted reach of crazy sorrow
Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky
With one hand waving free
Silhouetted by the sea
Circled by the circus sands
With all memory and fate
Driven deep beneath the waves
Let me forget about today until tomorrow
Hey, Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me
I’m not sleepy and there ain’t no place I’m going to
Hey, Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me
In the jingle jangle morning I’ll come following you

Pinterest

Just Like a Woman 

(Blonde on Blonde, 1966)

Nobody feels any pain
Tonight as I stand inside the rain
Ev’rybody knows
That Baby’s got new clothes
But lately I see her ribbons and her bows
Have fallen from her curls
She takes just like a woman, yes, she does
She makes love just like a woman, yes, she does
And she aches just like a woman
But she breaks just like a little girl
Queen Mary
She’s my friend
Yes, I believe I’ll go see her again
Nobody has to guess
That Baby can’t be blessed
Till she sees finally that she’s like all the rest
With her fog, her amphetamine and her pearls
She takes just like a woman, yes
She makes love just like a woman, yes, she does
And she aches just like a woman
But she breaks just like a little girl
It was raining from the first
And I was dying there of thirst
So I came in here
And your long-time curse hurts
But what’s worse
Is this pain in here
I can’t stay in here
Ain’t it clear that
I just can’t fit
Yes, I believe it’s time for us to quit
But when we meet again
Introduced as friends
Please don’t let on that you knew me when
I was hungry and it was your world
Ah, you fake just like a woman, yes, you do
You make love just like a woman, yes, you do
Then you ache just like a woman
But you break just like a little girl

Visions of Johanna 

(Blonde on Blonde, 1966)

Ain’t it just like the night to play tricks when you’re tryin’ to be so quiet ?
We sit here stranded, though we’re all doing our best to deny it
And Louise holds a handful of rain, tempting you to defy it
Lights flicker from the opposite loft
In this room the heat pipes just cough
The country music station plays soft
But there’s nothing really nothing to turn off
Just Louise and her lover so entwined
And these visions of Johanna that conquer my mind.
In the empty lot where the ladies play blindman’s bluff with the key chain
And the all-night girls they whisper of escapades out on the D-train
We can hear the night watchman click his flashlight
Ask himself if it’s him or them that’s really insane
Louise she’s all right she’s just near
She’s delicate and seems like the mirror
But she just makes it all too concise and too clear
That Johanna’s not here
The ghost of electricity howls in the bones of her face
Where these visions of Johanna have now taken my place.
Now, little boy lost, he takes himself so seriously
He brags of his misery, he likes to live dangerously
And when bringing her name up
He speaks of a farewell kiss to me
He’s sure got a lotta gall to be so useless and all
Muttering small talk at the wall while I’m in the hall
Oh, how can I explain ?
It’s so hard to get on
And these visions of Johanna they kept me up past the dawn.
Inside the museums, Infinity goes up on trial
Voices echo this is what salvation must be like after a while
But Mona Lisa musta had the highway blues
You can tell by the way she smiles
See the primitive wallflower frieze
When the jelly-faced women all sneeze
Hear the one with the mustache say, “Jeeze
I can’t find my knees.”
Oh, jewels and binoculars hang from the head of the mule
But these visions of Johanna, they make it all seem so cruel.
The peddler now speaks to the countess who’s pretending to care for him
Saying, “Name me someone that’s not a parasite and I’ll go out and say a prayer for him.”
But like Louise always says
“Ya can’t look at much, can ya man.”
As she, herself prepares for him
And Madonna, she still has not showed
We see this empty cage now corrode
Where her cape of the stage once had flowed
The fiddler, he now steps to the road
He writes everything’s been returned which was owed
On the back of the fish truck that loads
While my conscience explodes
The harmonicas play the skeleton keys and the rain
And these visions of Johanna are now all that remain.


I Want You 

(Blonde on Blonde, 1966)

The guilty undertaker sighs,
The lonesome organ grinder cries,
The silver saxophones say I should refuse you.
The cracked bells and washed-out horns
Blow into my face with scorn,
But it’s not that way,
I wasn’t born to lose you,
I want you, I want you,
I want you so bad,
Honey, I want you.

The drunken politician leaps
Upon the street where mothers weep
And the saviors who are fast asleep,
They wait for you.
And I wait for them to interrupt
Me drinkin’ from my broken cup,
And ask me to
Open up the gate for you
I want you, I want you,
I want you so bad,
Honey, I want you.

Now all my fathers, they’ve gone down
True love they’ve been without it.
But all their daughters put me down
‘Cause I don’t think about it.

Well, I return to the queen of spades 
And talk with my chambermaid.
She knows that I’m not afraid
To look at her.
She is good to me
And there’s nothing she doesn’t see.
She knows where I’d like to be
But it doesn’t matter.
I want you, I want you,
I want you so bad,
Honey, I want you.

Now your dancing child with his Chinese suit,
He spoke to me, I took his flute.
No, I wasn’t very cute to him,
Was I?
But I did it, though, because he lied
Because he took you for a ride
And because time was on his side
And because I…
I want you, I want you,
I want you so bad,
Honey, I want you


Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door 

(Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid, 1973)

Mama, take this badge off of me
I can’t use it anymore.
It’s gettin’ dark, too dark to see
I feel I’m knockin’ on heaven’s door.

Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Mama, put my guns in the ground
I can’t shoot them anymore
That long black cloud is comin’ down
I feel like I’m knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door

Hurricane 

(Desire, 1976)

Pistol shots ring out in the barroom night
Enter Patty Valentine from the upper hall
She sees a bartender in a pool of blood
Cries out my God, they killed them all
Here comes the story of the Hurricane
The man the authorities came to blame
For somethin’ that he never done
Put in a prison cell, but one time he could-a been
The champion of the world
Three bodies lyin’ there does Patty see
And another man named Bello, movin’ around mysteriously
I didn’t do it, he says, and he throws up his hands
I was only robbin’ the register, I hope you understand
I saw them leavin’, he says, and he stops
One of us had better call up the cops
And so Patty calls the cops
And they arrive on the scene with their red lights flashin’
In the hot New Jersey night
Meanwhile, far away in another part of town
Rubin Carter and a couple of friends are drivin’ around
Number one contender for the middleweight crown
Had no idea what kinda shit was about to go down
When a cop pulled him over to the side of the road
Just like the time before and the time before that
In Paterson that’s just the way things go
If you’re black you might as well not show up on the street
‘Less you want to draw the heat
Alfred Bello had a partner and he had a rap for the cops
Him and Arthur Dexter Bradley were just out prowlin’ around
He said, I saw two men runnin’ out, they looked like middleweights
They jumped into a white car with out-of-state plates
And Miss Patty Valentine just nodded her head
Cop said, wait a minute, boys, this one’s not dead
So they took him to the infirmary
And though this man could hardly see
They told him that he could identify the guilty men
Four in the mornin’ and they haul Rubin in
They took him to the hospital and they brought him upstairs
The wounded man looks up through his one dyin’ eye
Says, wha’d you bring him in here for? He ain’t the guy!
Here’s the story of the Hurricane
The man the authorities came to blame
For somethin’ that he never done
Put in a prison cell, but one time he could-a been
The champion of the world
Four months later, the ghettos are in flame
Rubin’s in South America, fightin’ for his name
While Arthur Dexter Bradley’s still in the robbery game
And the cops are puttin’ the screws to him, lookin’ for somebody to blame
Remember that murder that happened in a bar
Remember you said you saw the getaway car
You think you’d like to play ball with the law
Think it might-a been that fighter that you saw runnin’ that night
Don’t forget that you are white
Arthur Dexter Bradley said I’m really not sure
The cops said a poor boy like you could use a break
We got you for the motel job and we’re talkin’ to your friend Bello
You don’t wanta have to go back to jail, be a nice fellow
You’ll be doin’ society a favor
That sonofabitch is brave and gettin’ braver
We want to put his ass in stir
We want to pin this triple murder on him
He ain’t no Gentleman Jim
Rubin could take a man out with just one punch
But he never did like to talk about it all that much
It’s my work, he’d say, and I do it for pay
And when it’s over I’d just as soon go on my way
Up to some paradise
Where the trout streams flow and the air is nice
And ride a horse along a trail
But then they took him to the jailhouse
Where they try to turn a man into a mouse
All of Rubin’s cards were marked in advance
The trial was a pig-circus, he never had a chance
The judge made Rubin’s witnesses drunkards from the slums
To the white folks who watched he was a revolutionary bum
And to the black folks he was just a crazy nigger
No one doubted that he pulled the trigger
And though they could not produce the gun
The D.A. said he was the one who did the deed
And the all-white jury agreed
Rubin Carter was falsely tried
The crime was murder one, guess who testified
Bello and Bradley and they both baldly lied
And the newspapers, they all went along for the ride
How can the life of such a man
Be in the palm of some fool’s hand
To see him obviously framed
Couldn’t help but make me feel ashamed to live in a land
Where justice is a game
Now all the criminals in their coats and their ties
Are free to drink martinis and watch the sun rise
While Rubin sits like Buddha in a ten-foot cell
An innocent man in a living hell
That’s the story of the Hurricane
But it won’t be over till they clear his name
And give him back the time he’s done
Put in a prison cell, but one time he could-a been
The champion of the world

Not Dark Yet (Time Out of Mind, 1997)

Shadows are fallin’ and I’ve been here all day
It’s too hot to sleep and time is runnin’ away
Feel like my soul has turned into steel
I’ve still got the scars that the sun didn’t heal
There’s not even room enough to be anywhere
It’s not dark yet but it’s gettin’ there.

Well, my sense of humanity has gone down the drain
Behind every beautiful thing there’s been some kind of pain
She wrote me a letter and she wrote it so kind
She put down in writin’ what was in her mind
I just don’t see why I should even care
It’s not dark yet but it’s gettin’ there.



Monday, October 10, 2016

Angela Carter's unknown poems reveal the celebrated writer's passion for verse

Angela Carter's unknown poems reveal the celebrated writer's passion for verse

The discovery of unpublished work by the feminist writer sheds new light on her literary development
Vanessa Thorpe, arts and media correspondent
Sunday 13 March 2011 00.04 GMT

A series of unknown poems by the novelist and subversive essayist Angela Carter, discovered at her former London home, have revealed a previously unknown passion that casts new light on her development as a novelist.
Carter, who died of lung cancer at the age of 51 in 1992, was one of Britain's most celebrated authors and remains a leading voice in feminist fiction, but her poetry has never been professionally published or widely studied. In the 1970s and 1980s she was at the forefront of fabulist or magical narrative work. She is perhaps best remembered for the collection of short stories, The Bloody Chamber, which Carter later adapted successfully for the screen as The Company of Wolves, directed by Neil Jordan.
Carter's friends, including Salman Rushdie, former poet laureate Andrew Motion, publisher Carmen Callil, and the writer and historian Marina Warner, had no idea the author had started out in the 1960s with determined ambitions as a poet. "She came out of the very un-English tradition of Grimm fairy stories and European Gothic and then made a kind of English version of this," said Rushdie. "I did always think of her as a magical writer and in these poems you see how much she was already there. All the iconography of her later fabulism seems to be there."

Friends and admirers of Carter assess her newly unearthed poems in a Radio 4 programme broadcast this afternoon and presented by the writer's literary executor, Susannah Clapp, the Observer's theatre critic.
"After Angela died I went into her office inside her house in Clapham. I found an old, grey filing cabinet jammed with work. I hoped, of course, I would find a few new short stories or a novel. But then I found her journals," said Clapp this weekend. "These are largely work journals, rather than diaries, and they list what Angela was reading and watching at the time. But embedded in them are more than a dozen poems, some completely scored through and some delicately revised."
The poems were written at the beginning of Carter's life as a writer, before her first novel, Shadow Dance, was published in 1966. The journals that contain them are school exercise books decorated with a collage of old product labels, cocktail recipes and advertisements for patent medicines. A few of her early verses appeared in her university magazine in Bristol, but Clapp was surprised to find written evidence of her friend's youthful pledge to become a serious poet who would bring imaginative freedom to verse.
Carter's later prose writing has what Clapp describes as an "unforgettably sensuous" voice, coupled with the "sardonic wit" that was to earn her the title of the "White Witch of English Literature". The recovered poems display the same contrasting voluptuousness and sense of humour.
"The striking thing about them, as Andrew Motion says, is that she really does seem to have been a poet, rather than just writing lines that would prefigure the novels she was to write," said Clapp. "Although there are many of the same themes there, such as the importance of fairytales and the sceptical treatment of the relationships between men and women, and language that is very sensual, there is definitely an intensity that her fans will recognise."
Motion, who worked as Carter's literary editor at the publishing house Chatto and Windus, recalls seeing the writer arrive at their London offices, looking "as if she had been blown in by a hurricane". She had strong opinions and a naturally questioning stance. "You weren't going to get away with anything. And this was a very strong and very appealing thing about her," said Motion.
The poet believes the discovery of the poems will bring new readers to Carter's work. Ten years ago, he says, the writer was the subject of more academic theses and doctorates than perhaps any other British writer. "This is not true any more and we need to remember her," he adds. The poems are worthy of study, he says. "It is difficult, though, not to think she is looking around for things she could do later, probably more successfully, in the novels." The earliest poems are prolix, or full of what Motion calls "word eruptions", but he finds the later poems strike a "balance between the murkiness and the clarity".
Motion sees Carter as a comic writer who saw the life of the universe as an awful joke, "or rather, awful and a joke". When appointed literary executor, Clapp was instructed by Carter simply to "make money for my boys" (her son and her second husband Mark Pearce). Inside the bulging filing cabinet Clapp also found an unproduced version of Frank Wedekind's Lulu, the libretto of an unfinished opera based on Virginia Woolf's surreal novel Orlando and several screenplays. Her other main find was a rich stash of Carter's paintings.
"I did know that she painted, but I found lots of her lovely, brightly coloured work. It is a little like Georgia O'Keefe's work, with lots of open flowers and some pictures of cats too, which she loved."
Carter's great love of verse was evident at her funeral when Salman Rushdie read Andrew Marvell's poem On a Drop of Dew at her own request.