Thursday, 7 January 2021

Solipsistic reflections on my own formalism, or lack thereof

I'm accustomed to thinking of my verse as formalist. The Montpeliad [Bristol 24/7 c2016] is 620 lines of heroic couplet, and I don't think there are more than three or four deviations into e.g. Alexandrine. The same goes for my ongoing heroic couplet mock epic, The Modern Hudibras. Things are admittedly quite a bit more lax in my Jacobean revenge tragedy, The Senseless Counterfeit, but then again Shakespeare isn't wall-to-wall iambic pentameter. I also experiment with free-verse in The Wasted which however, like the great work of which it is a blatant and egregious parody, reverts back to iambic pentameter and often heroic couplet.

I'm particularly accustomed to thinking of my sonnets in particular as rigidly formalist. That's not to say that I don't experiment with rhyme schemes. On the contrary, although the majority of my sonnets are Shakespearean [i.e. ababcdcdefefgg], I reckon I've written more sonnets with experimental rhyme schemes than Petrarchan and Spenserian sonnets. When I describe my sonnets as formalist, what I'm saying is only  that each sonnet I write consists in fourteen lines of iambic pentameter. And what I mean by rigidly formalist is that rhymes are perfect.

So it comes as something of a surprise to discover that I'm not exactly the formalist sonneteer of my imaginings. Consider XXVIII, which is from my Odes, Epigrams, & Further Sonnets - another ongoing accumulation - and is the final item of the nine sonnets published by The Hypertexts last week. To put it in context, it's about a mattress I encountered a year or two ago propped up against a wall in St Pauls, on which somebody had written "nothing mattress anymore".


A Sapphire in the Mud
Inscribed Mattress, Ashley Road, St Pauls, Bristol

Behold the “nothing mattress anymore”
mattress—king-sized, warped, stained, propped up against
damp brick. Beguiling like an unlocked door,
the truth thus written is, without pretence:
this mattress, having lost its function must
no longer as something mattress exist.
Instead, a canvas for a wit’s mot juste,
the mattress bears the koanistic gist
of its own annihilation. Just this once,
one countenances some conceptual art
as something not shat out by blue-haired cunts
with attitude who hold themselves apart.
This thy Upanishad, thy Torah, Tao.
Away to the recycling centre now.

"Must" and "just" are assonant. And "once" and "cunts" takes a certain liberty with the concept of rhyme, which "against" and "pretence" arguably abuse.

It may seem that I'm disparaging my own verse. I'm not. I'm very happy with this sonnet - the vulgarity in line 11 notwithstanding - and am grateful to Mike Burch at the Hypertexts for publishing it. In the present context, regard "abusing the concept of rhyme" as a technical notion without pejorative connotations. I'm just pedantically acknowledging that my deviations from perfect rhyme mean that I'm not as formalist as I thought I was.

Wednesday, 30 December 2020

The HyperTexts publishes nine of my sonnets

 The Hypertexts is a very well-regarded online journal specialising in formal and formalist poetry. To be inculcated into its ranks is a real honour, and I take this opportunity to thank its primum mobile Mike Burch for seeing fit to add my name to the roll.

The nine sonnets which the Hypertexts published this morning are from two sources: Arabic numerals denote sonnets from my completed 155-strong cycle the 'Sonnets, Mostly Bristolian', whereas Roman numerals denote sonnets from the 'Odes, Epigrams, & Further Sonnets', which is an ongoing accumulation. 

Five of the selection are published for the first time, and four have been published previously.

In particular, XVII is the English translation of 141, which is my solitary French sonnet and was published about three years ago in the French Literary Review. 

Here's a link to my Hypertext page.

Friday, 18 December 2020

An extract from Helix Folt the Conservative

 Bristol’s resident Ozymandias is personified in the form of Squalor. This gentleman is theorised in some academically not unrespectable quarters as a (grossly) decadent descendant of the ur-deity Skǖǚllǚǖ, which functions as the chaotic antithesis of the organising principle Llog in the Brislington Book of the Brute. Whatever the truth of the matter, Squalor is by comparison to his peers an easygoing fellow. There is no permanent shrine to him as such, for his church is to be found wherever he is. To this purpose, enthroned on and taking his ease in a supermarket trolley, thus is he wheeled about hither and thither by his hierophants. These holy unredeemable wretches supervise the erection unto his glory of ephemeral shrines - great tottering ziggurats of mildewed cardboard and crushed cans, against which is piled all manner of liquescent and noisome trash, which like the great dunes in the desert is subject to the caprices of zephyrs, and on this account gradually changes over time, sometimes petrifying into gnarled and abhorrent shapes, at other times liquefying and flowing hither and thither in those great tsunamis of toxic sludge which are among the veritable wonders of the age.

The genius loci himself is a quotidian presence in our town, and is at all times to be espied either insensible in his trolley, or reeling about all bemerded and festooned with cans, from which he frequently drinks. This agreeable gentleman makes no objection to being propitiated if it’s rilly not too much trouble, but is not at all particular as to the precise details. Gore is perfectly welcome of course, but so equally are the several other fluids, colloids, cheeses, stools, pukes, the several modes of ethanol, micturitions, and other essences, which go into and come out of that mighty engine, man.

Most wisely and truly is it said that those upon whom Squalor visits his benediction never ultimately profit by it. And this immutable, adamantine, definitional, iron law of nature admits of no exception in the petty case of Ms. Minerva Ledwitch. This afternoon finds this irreproachable matron taking her repose in the domestic Charybdis which, ever egregiously in want of a clean, has bubbled away these numberless years in the back garden of the bungalow in Mangotsfield. Reclining with what grace she can muster amidst the mineral deposits and the algae and the slime, Ms. Minerva Ledwitch assembles and with some deftness maintains upon her head’s frontispiece the several elements of maxillo-facial muscle operation which, when correctly concatenated, convey to the observer a sublime contentment on the part of the observed subject. It scarcely bears remarking that the effect in the present case is supremely horrifying.

The bungalow’s backdoor opens now, and extrudes Mr Don Quicksotte, who commences a furtive sort of scuttling across the lawn to his shed. Drawing level with Charybdis he looks up and, in the act of assembling his own features into his signature watery smile, is turned to stone by the rictus on the Ledwitch face.

“I don’t know what you think you’re going into your shed for,” says sharply that excellent gorgon, without the least alteration to her expression, “the moment you sit down, pound to a penny Cheseham will come to the front door, and you will have to get up and go all the way back through the house.”

“I know dear,” gabbles the booster of wind, “I just thought, you know, the windmill I promised the Inhalis is at rather a critical stage in its assembly, and I rather thought, you know, just snatch a few secs to …”

“I cannot be expected,” says Ms. Minerva Ledwitch with majestic finality, “to traipse through the vestibule in the nude.”

“No dear, of course not.”

Ms. Minerva Ledwitch, not to be deterred, elaborates upon this new theme

“I do sometimes speculate,” says she, “I do sometimes speculate, Quicksotte, as to whether the explanation for your pusillanimity may not be found in Candaulism.”

“Why no indeed dear,” says Quicksotte blinking rapidly, “it is only the Inhalis’ windmill you know, I …”

“Ghastly old pervert,” thunders Ms. Minerva Ledwitch, lifting her form sufficient to expose above the turbid waters a singularly majestic bosom, “go,” saith she pointing a weed-bedecked arm, “go back within and attend by the front door.”

The Aeolus of Mangotsfield smiles then his forlorn, wretched smile and, sighing, about-faces and betakes himself back within the bungalow. This outcome appears to satisfy the Crews Hole Pegaea who, resuming her ecstatic attitude, subsides once more into the moiling turbidity, suffering the mammalian protuberances aforementioned to dance like clashing rocks.

Monday, 14 December 2020

White BLM scum attacking black children

Clicking on the URL below will take you to a sickening video of white Black Lives Matter supporters pursuing and attacking a black woman desperately trying to remove her young children from the vicinity.

Friday, 6 November 2020

I fully intend to break the law this month.

My father has Alzheimers disease. I do not understand the rationale of the law prohibiting me from visiting him during lockdown. What is the point of depriving an innocent elderly gentleman of his liberty and his family during what may well be a sizeable chunk out of his remaining existence as a conscious participant in his own life? Accordingly, I absolutely will continue to visit him at least once a week, and will face any resultant legal proceedings with pride in myself for having done the right thing.

Wednesday, 14 October 2020

Economist Barnaby Lane perfectly captures my feelings about Brexit


Here, begging his pardon for the liberty, I quote in its entirety a Quora answer by Barnaby Lane:-

"What's the biggest irony about the whole Brexit episode?

For me, it’s the way Brexit has become a case study in the Dunning-Krueger effect. People who voted Brexit generally don’t claim knowledge of many of the issues. They don’t know how economics, international trade, international law, and so on work and they don’t pretend to. They just see a layer of government making laws that radically affect their lives, that they had no part in choosing and cannot vote out. They see something desperately wrong with that, and for them, that’s enough. It’s not a complicated position. It’s visceral, basic, and very, very real.

On the other hand, you see people — mostly educated middle classes — who think they’re a cut above. They talk as if they think they’re knowledgeable, but are not. They’re the Emily Thornberrys, the people who look down on, even despise, the working classes. Such people ponce about claiming to know stuff about international trade, claiming to know about economics, claiming to know about international law. Maybe they even read a Guardian article on the topics, once.

Such people talk in a facetious and cocky way, showing disrespect to those they don’t consider their equals. They score highly in parroting Guardian columnists, but lowly in logical reasoning, empathy and original thought. A tiny amount of real knowledge is all it takes to see that they haven’t the faintest clue what they’re talking about."

Wednesday, 2 September 2020

RIP George Craven, exemplary black cat.

Sad to relate, my cat George had to be put to sleep last night. He was an awesome feline and will be greatly missed. Sonnet 26 was written in his honour three or four years ago, and is reproduced here in his memory.

Sonnet 26
What art thou, Puss? Shining nonentity,
thou space where photons go like hope to die.
Fix not on me those heartless compound eyes,
nor compass me with swart plasticity.
‘More kibbles!’ ever was thy vacant plea,
and susurration of the beast at rest.
Betimes thou murther’d rodents, raided nests,
perchéd inscrutably in random trees.
Thy rapine’s circuit latterly contracts,
thy depredation’s lately not as bold;
wherefore, my surmise Puss: thou dost grow old
and ought most leisurely repent thy acts;
which I, for all thy roguery, dispense
despite thy manifest indifference.

Solipsistic reflections on my own formalism, or lack thereof

I'm accustomed to thinking of my verse as formalist. The Montpeliad [Bristol 24/7 c2016] is 620 lines of heroic couplet, and I don't...