Friday, 25 September 2009

And the first review...

It is very rare to find a first day review of a poetry book in a major newspaper so I am delighted and astounded by today's Independent review by Boyd Tonkin, which goes like this (brief but bejewelled):

The Burning of the Books, By George Szirtes
Reviewed by Boyd Tonkin

Any new collection from George Szirtes will treat its readers to a unique poetic combination: immense versatility and virtuosity when it comes to form, but also a tireless sympathy that dwells clear-sightedly on shocks, traumas and hard-won renewals from a century of migration and massacre.

This volume has typically strong-voiced sequences on memory and time: photographs of war, an émigré wrestler from the poet's native Hungary, or the secret clocks of the body in the lovely "The Birds". But its title sequence truly takes the breath away: a meditation on the love and hatred of knowledge, and why fury against literature did not start or end on Nazis' pyres: "Because the word is angular and has sharp edges/ That cut you". Read Szirtes to feel the exquisite, excruciating paper cuts of history.

(GS grins with happy stupid look on face)


dana said...

Double, or I should say triple congratulations! (One for each book, and another for that review.)

Best wishes to your family.

Angela France said...

WooHoo! Congratulations, George - well deserved. We were thrilled to have some of the title sequence with your interview in Iota (You should have had your copy by now?)

Nicole S said...

That's quite a review. I bet most of us here aren't surprised, though. Many congratulations.

George S said...

Thank you, Dana, Angela and Nicole. The review quite startled me. What with Reel winning the Eliot and the New and Collected getting a great press I thought this book would be too soon and be quietly forgotten. As of course it might be yet. People can just get fed up of seeing the same person around.

A once-a-decade Larkinesque, painful-parsimoniousness-and-exclusivity seems to be beyond me.

Thank you again.

Graham Mummery said...

Hi George,

Well done - and highly deserved. I put pre-publication order on it once it appeared in Amazon. The book is terrific. Stylish, individual and profound, I keep going back to various poems as they repay repeated readings. You can safely keep that look on your face a while longer!


George S said...

Thank you, Graham. I hope you're well and prospering.