Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Reading Reading

By Tracy

John tells me he's just re-read Peter Reading's Work in Regress, which he reckons is one of the best books of poetry to have been published in Britain in the last 20 years (it was published in Britain in 1997, by Bloodaxe).

He says: it's a very slim book with a kind of rhetorical, fragmentary lyricism, with all ebullience sucked out of it -- it's possibly one of the darkest & grimmest books he has ever read. The use of Latin, Greek and medieval & Renaissance references and stylistic subtexts inflects a rotting modernity that makes for an implosion of imperialist aesthetics ("Ovidian"; "Theocritan"; "Propertian...", etc).

And he adds: But Reading is never this unnecessarily wordy! -- spitting out words and phrases so sharp and so honed that they are frightening.

The individual title is out of print, according to the Bloodaxe Books website, but can be found in the third volume of Reading's collected poems.

You can listen to recordings of Reading reading his work at Lannan Foundation's website.

1 comment:

JEV said...

This guy is hardly sentimental.

I picked up a copy of Poetry in Regress from Abebooks in the UK for a princely quid (plus postage).

In December/January, some of the poems - especially "Luger" and "Propertian (III. viii)" - proved a curious hit at parties with people who usually imagine poetry in terms of high school Wordsworth and Keats.

He is very dark, and his vision of the UK pessimistic, but I take on board your comments about his honed use of language.