Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Kathleen Jones on The Burning of the Books

A writer is lucky to get such a generous, considered discussion of his book as here and here by the writer and journalist Kathleen Jones.

The book is doing all right. It had that very nice encomium in The Independent, was one of The Times's books of the year, and it turns up in The Guardian round-up too. And there was Sarah Hymas's interview-cum-piece at Echo Soundings / Litfest. It has also been among the books of the year here and two or three people there (at Michelle's). And at the Scottish Poetry Library by Kapka Kassabova. Poetry books are lucky to be reviewed at all in many cases. I think Magma may have reviewed it but I haven't seen the review if so.*

There is, of course, the T S Eliot 2009 short list but that is a long way off and very remote. And, mustn't forget, a poem from the book is up for The Pushcart Prize in the USA. (A couple were up last year but didn't get anywhere...)

Just taking stock. I used to keep a scrap book of these things, but haven't done so for seven or eight years now, so this is the only record.

In any case, the worst hasn't happened. I was worried about publishing a book less than a year after The New and Collected Poems in case everyone should have had enough me and my works.

*Update: Rob Mackenzie kindly sends me the Magma newsletter, the book reviewed by Matt Merritt, ending:

...this willingness to develop themes through sequences is both a strength and a weakness, the former because Szirtes knows how to achieve subtle, cumulative effects, the latter because at times, there's just a hint that he's trying to wring every last word from a subject. The fine occasional poems that end the book, on the other hand, suggest that Szirtes knows just how much is enough.

Too damn right I am trying to wring every last word. No doubt I'll carry on doing so. It may be a weakness but it's in the boy's nature.


Kathleen Jones said...

thanks for the kind words! It's always nerve-wracking to write about another writer's work.
best wishes

Diane said...

This is a veritable cornucopia of thought, references, more to read, and exquisite analysis.

Many thanks to Kathleen Jones. I shall be following the interstices for days (between the pressures of my own bloody relentless work!).

George, do not stop "wringing" every last word! It proves the precision that rachets up writing away from the banal, the cliche, the yawning complaint and the tediousness of those who seek to blame their lack of inventiveness and their floppy writing on publishers, the public, the milkman.


George S said...

Thank YOU, Kathleen.

And thanks as ever, Diane. I forgot one gorgeous write up which may not be linkable...

I blame everything on our milkman. Well, perhaps not quite everything.