All entries for April 2008

April 14, 2008

Petrarch and Wyatt: thank goodness for n00bs

The thing you start to see, when you look at the way Wyatt translates Petrarch, is that it's so important to him to be a translator. Because he NEEDS to express two voices in his poems, all of which do contain two voices: the formal (that is, the voice of the form, the sonnet form but also the form of a poem in general, as well as the voice that is refined, logical, and formal in this sense - formal in the sense of correct, and publicly so - it thus coincides with a PUBLIC voice [just as people see a Public/Private conflict in Virgil's Aeneid]), and the personal (that is, the voice of his poetic persona, or indeed his own voice, that which makes his poetry uniquely his - this can also be seen as the subversive, like Virgil's private voice); these formal and informal voices can easily become Italian and English - the form itself is Italian, thus its voice is Petrarch's, but the language is English, and thus Wyatt's own language, the voice of the English renaissance: so the poems have to be translations in this sense. When the poems are weaker, these voices are in conflict and opposition, though sometimes this conflict is their strength: but overall they have a dialogic (I think that's how you spell it?) relationship, and when you start reading that, you can appreciate an artistic process that is both very renaissance, and also pretty much universal to art: all artists have to deal with the voice of the art-form, and the art is often a fascinating, sometimes beautiful, dialogue between the artist and the art form. And sometimes it's shit.

What I have come to conclude is that Elizabeth Deering Hanscon is a total n00b. She bums Surrey for his logic and consistency - basically his BORINGNESS...! - and criticises Wyatt for his flexibility (some, Sister Lizzie, would call it EXPRESSION!!!)... she also ignores the fact that these were the FIRST English sonnets; they had no linguistic point of reference, and indeed no imitators at the time. Cor blimey. But she very conveniently reads ALL of Petrarch's and Wyatt's sonnets in the most boring way possible (counting every tiny metrical, grammatical and structural similarity or difference), basically so that I don't have to; I can't really thank her enough.

April 13, 2008

I'd like to recommend a band to you. (1)

Mr. Bones and the Dreamers are a Birmingham band, I know the singer, Keiran, pretty well, particularly as he's always been so supportive of my own music. What they do is quite interesting, something for the BrightEyes/Decemberists crowd perhaps, though those aren't exactly my favourite bands, I love Mr. Bones and the Dreamers. I assume the name is a reference to Berryman's Dream Songs, in which the character of Mr. Bones keeps appearing; I only realised that the other day, but it pleased me a lot, the Dream Songs are really great, tragic poetry. Keiran's songwriting is all about tapping into the American (and in particular, the Americana) depressive; the accent he sings in is halfway Birmingham, UK and halfway Birmingham, Alabama: it's difficult to forgive singers who put on American accents, but Keiran's singing voice is so difficult to place that you can see and hear him adopting a persona. He recently sent me this video, which I thought I'd share with the world:

It's him playing in his friend's kitchen. There's some really nice background noise, something I'm quite into at the moment. When Joe and I first started recording for my band 'where I'm calling from', we liked to experiment with it; we had a (pretty stupid) song called 'Lodgers', the piano for which was recorded on the onboard mic of his fourtrack, with both of our then girlfriends talking on the couch at the time. It's something we've recently come back to.

Speaking of this kind of thing, if you're from Oxford, or in anyway interested in the more unsung acts of Oxford's music scene, I'd recommend joining the facebook 'Oxford Rockers' group on faceboook:

have to stop writing this because I'm drunk now. 

April 07, 2008

closing time

Probably I should be washing. My body seems to want to remove as much of itself as possible, so I can wake up next week, half a person, fit into my old jeans, and maybe have a bite to eat. Essays don’t do themselves, they fill my half-closed eyes with blank screens.

Oscar calls but I do not answer. I pretend, to myself, that I am sleeping. My stomach pummels itself. But essays do not write themselves.

I make a niche in my balled first by arching my thumb and my pointing finger. Only two weeks left of this now. I sl

ide the pen into the niche. The cold pen. And I stare at the page and do not write.

April 03, 2008

point A

Greg’s favourite thing to do, he said, was to take much more mandy than I

could’ve managed, lean against the (white) wall of his flat, and gradually

slide to the floor, chain-smoking and rushing his nuts off. That doesn’t

mean Greg had nothing else to him. But he could certainly handle, and

enjoy, things I couldn’t. He’d bomb this initial mandy in the

mid-afternoon, and then gum dabs of it through the evening, and I suppose

he could’ve stayed high for days, if he’d been diagnosed with some

terminal illness and been told he had a fortnight to live, he’d’ve

probably buzzed right through it, ending up in the morning-afterlife.

It was this conversation – what I could hear of it over the general

messy sound of Birmingham, which sounds like couples kissing and old men

farting and dumb kids starting fights and that kind of Decemberist

folk-with-kick that Mr. Bones and the Dreamers do – this was Point A.

It’s difficult, if not impossible, to say why, but I can tell without a

shadow of a doubt that this is where it all started.

Not that it was a typical night in my life, because it wasn’t that, it

was just a good one, a great one, for a lot of people, I know, and a lot

of people I know, this is a much more regular experience than it is for

me, seeing the happening djs and taking the love drugs. Still it can

happen to almost anyone, their hearts and their minds can change and

mandy’s always core to it as far as I can see, the author of our

confessions and strained sobriety, and this is the taste it lends to water

when it is dissolved in it and sipped by skinny girls. So like everything

ever, this begins with girls, though not one girl in particular, though

there was the problem of my ex-girlfriend, but she was several postcodes

away in her cold London room, so what could I do? Too ugly to fuck around

and to afraid of loneliness to get a hobby.


I just made the mistake of thinking aloud.

“I’m fine, I’m fine, sorry, just – buzzing, you know?”

“Yeah man.”

“I’m just gonna... sit here for a while,” with my head in my hands, “with

my head... in my hands.” I trailed off. New vibrations shook the wooden

floor beneath me. Footsteps, of Dave’s big feet in flat soles.

“Alrigh-ight mate?”

“Yeah – ” in my brain, I puked my guts out, “just feeling a bit –

overwhelmed,” goddamit I am so shit with drugs. I took my phone from out

of my pocket. I began to compose a message to Keiran from Mr. Bones and

the Dreamers. Dave caught my eyes.

“You need. To. Rave. Trust me on this. Used to be me, everytime, I would

just sit there rushing like hell, getting a bit – depressed.”

What do I say? My body is at odds with my mind?

“Come dance, may-ate.”

I finished the message, that asked him for salvation. He didn’t live too

far away, it was just round the corner that I’d seen them play and just

round the corner from him, but I’ve taken to reducing even

the biggest cities to only their centres and suburbs. I lifted my lead

legs and placed my feet on the slats. The whole world shook. I was


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