I said in the introduction to the New and Collected Poems that such books had something of the air of tombstones, and so I carefully saved from it the more substantial new poems that seemed to me to be striking out somewhere genuinely new. The book containing all those poems will be published by Bloodaxe in September under the title, The Burning of the Books and Other Poems, although, before that, the poems that comprise the actual Burning of the Books sequence, based on Elias Canetti's Auto da Fe, will appear by themselves along with the prints of the poem's original begetter, Ronald King, under the title, a little confusingly, of The Burning of the Books, to be published by the new Full Circle Press. That will be an artistic whole, a complete package of one project. The Bloodaxe book will contain many more poems, including those on photographs that first appeared in Poetry magazine, USA as well as the six canzone, the Nova Zembla poems, the Penig sequence, the Van Gogh sequence, the Palladio poem, the one about the man who thought he was made of grass, and a number of other sequences including prose poems, that have been building a while. So two quite different books in the end.
As to the New and Collected I could not possibly have expected such a marvellous set of reviews. The Guardian, The Times, The Independent, The Morning Star are all in (see sidebar for links), but just now, within the last few days two wonderful extended new reviews have appeared, the first by Martyn Crucefix in Poetry London, the other by William Bedford in The Warwick Review, neither on line. Never mind tombstones, I think I must be dead and have gone to heaven. There is, I have been told, another review to appear in The Times Literary Supplement.
How very strange this all is. I think of A Midsummer Night's Dream:
O Bottom, thou art changed! what do I see on thee?
What do you see? you see an asshead of your own, do
Bless thee, Bottom! bless thee! thou art
I see their knavery: this is to make an ass of me;
to fright me, if they could. But I will not stir
from this place, do what they can: I will walk up
and down here, and I will sing, that they shall hear
I am not afraid.
My normal expectation would have been that someone declares me an ass, an impostor, a foreigner who can barely speak English. To which my response would be much like Bottom's, in other words: I would not stir from this place, do what they can.
The expectation is a condition.
Well, if I am dead, I am having a lovely time reading the obits. Who dat man? He Mistah Kurtz.