Sunday, 5 July 2009
Sunday night is... Lunatics
As has ever been the case.
Long drive to Chepstow yesterday for the reading, staying at kind hosts' W and J's medieval gatehouse, up three floors by spiral stairs, with extra ladder to tower from where grandiloquent view of all and sundriest even unto the old Severn Bridge. Mullions, transoms, passages, the whole reclaimed from sixties updating of sixteenth century and before.
The reading with Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch. This has been a week for reading with two outstanding younger female poets and I expect Wynne-Rhydderch soon to be at a peak similar to Jen Hadfield's. Where Hadfield is precise, liturgical, visionary and roguish with her language in a post-Edwin Morgan Modernist manner, W-R is passionate, funny, wickedly sharp and tragic, somewhat in the bardic tradition. It was quite marvellous reading with them both in their different ways - as indeed my own way is different from either's. Both sets of readings worked very well as a pair. I left both feeling happy. Both places were good places to be.
This is not a review or a survey, just notes, but if I were writing an essay I would try to explore the poetry of the younger generation of female poets whose work is now, in many cases, independent, beyond polemic or conscious self-assertion. The subject is not 'being women': it is nature, or history or incident, but the voice is a female voice being itself. W-R is older than Hadfield, a sort of 'older-sister by a few years' older, but still very much the same generation - my children's generation. Both write out of a sense of independence as poets. As persons too they are independent. I wouldn't use terms such as 'post-feminist' because that implies something specific, something more directly political, something less to do with the quality of their poetry, than with an argument that may or may not be proceeding in their own minds. Impossible for me to comment on that.
Poetry and politics are not, of course, entirely distinct fields, but good poems are not illustrations of political positions. The positions embedded at depth in them must float on language with the openness of a language that can never be certain of itself, because uncertainty is its very essence. That uncertainty cuts left as well as right. But it can shimmer and sparkle and sing in all its multifaceted uncertainty and it can rise out of conviction. The higher the tightrope, the fewer the nets, the better. The world in all its power and complexity is the ground beneath. We can never forget the ground.