Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Geoffrey Hill, 'Clavics' (part four).

Peter at Enitharmon Press, the publishers of Clavics, drew my attention to this:


http://www.enitharmon.co.uk/pages/store/products/ec_view.asp?PID=434


He wrote:

"As you will be able to see on the Enitharmon website, I've tried my best to write a proper blurb for Clavics, but it wasn't done in time to go on the back of the book. And I can say it's pretty scary to try and nail his recent work. Only by nailing my colours to the mast have I been able to say something which avoids being completely bland, and I've no doubt that many people will take pretty major issue with it." (See his comment on "Geoffrey Hill, Clavics, (part one)" for the full quote.)

But if you go and see what he wrote, I think he's done a fine job. It contains statements like:

"Clavics is a celebration of seventeenth-century music and poetry, yet is confrontational and sometimes shockingly modern. From one line to the next you may be pulled out of a potently evoked moment of history, thrust up against the wall of sexual politics and strained meaning in contemporary language, and then dropped back onto a battlefield."

Which gives you some idea of what to expect

And

"Geoffrey Hill’s work is at the centre of a debate about how poetry should develop to find its place in contemporary society. Should it embrace the superficial potency of much of modern culture or turn back in upon itself with ever more complex layers of meaning? Should poetry attempt to gain a broader audience and engage ‘the market’ or consolidate its role as an increasingly obscure bastion of the intellect? Since his election to the post of Oxford Professor of Poetry, Geoffrey Hill has not shied away from these questions in his addresses. Now in his first book since he took his place amongst the highest of poetry academics, he has provided his provocative answer."

Which puts the book in a context to suggest its larger significance. It also means someone who's never heard of Hill would know why they might find the book interesting, have some idea of what to expect and be alerted to the fact the man's work is seen as contentious.

(And I thought the copy of Clavics I had was a fine looking book, but I see there is a hand bound and slip cased edition. Books as beautiful objects containing beautiful things.)

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