Warning

July 6, 2019

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practise a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

Jenny Joseph

On Loving Helen

July 6, 2019

one. All of this was written in the stars.
Don’t think for a moment that you are the one
holding the pen. Don’t think for a moment
that the skies aren’t already laughing.

two. When you first see her, she will be light
refracted, splintered divinity, some unlovely portrait
of a goddess misremembered. Go home.
Ready the ships. Practice swallowing the sea.

three. You won’t remember much about the war.
All you’ll know for certain is that now and forever,
every word you say will be a battle cry.
Every day you will be careful with
your earthquake hands.

four. She will not let you touch her
at first. Instead she will ask about
the city, burning. The men turned to ash.
She will ask you if you remember their names.

five. Your voice does not drown out
her beating heart. Your words do not muddy
her pulse. Come to terms with this quickly—
no, it doesn’t get easier. Lay down. Be still
for once in your life. Let her tread over your chest.

six. Love will arrive unannounced
on a Friday night; love will catch you trembling.
Love will take the golden apple from your hand
and into its mouth. Love will smile.
Love will bite down.

seven. You will bleed.

eight. When you watch her sleeping,
as you’ll no doubt do, convince yourself
she is a statue. Tell yourself
the swan’s egg she was born in never cracked.
Call it marble. Call it pure. Someday
you will stop looking for the lie.

nine. Recall that you are being watched
and the fates are getting bored.
At night you think you hear them,
passing the scissors back and forth.
Don’t let them fade you to black just yet.
You owe her at least that much.

ten. On the bad days, show her your hands.
They haven’t unlearned the cataclysm
that they are and will always be.
The ground beneath your feet
will still bend for them. Tell her
here I am.

eleven. And remember: you will bleed.

Christina Im

criticism

July 6, 2019

In regard to literary review and literary criticism, Hans Magnus Enzensberger once noted, ‘it’s difficult to get excited about something that’s simply wasting away,’ before continuing, ‘Literature has again become what it was from the beginning: a minority affair.’ Enzensberger’s polemic addresses a long history of the institutionalisation of literature and its criticism via both the academy and the mass media, noting the situation, ‘Today for every poet there must be approximately sixty-six academics employed in researching and interpreting him.’ He perceives the blunting of interpretative acuity as critics and then reviewers cater to the majority’s appetite for an easily digestible and then excretable moveable feast, and then lauds the demise of said criticism whereby literature has been returned to its stalwart, proper and apparently small audience. Enzensberger’s polemic concludes with the understanding that the century or more of literature’s and literary criticism’s ascension in the mainstream is at an end and (circa 1986 when the essay was written) we might be the fortunate generation to see writers ‘wipe off the representative mask which they wore so long.’

Michael Brennan
Last words: Tranter and Rimbaud’s silence

Everyone should have a hobby…

Writing

July 6, 2019

…one ought to write without making corrections, not necessarily at full tilt, no, but at one’s own pace and in accordance with what one is experiencing at the time; one ought to eject what one writes, manhandle it almost, yes, treat it roughly, not try to trim profusion but let it be part of the whole, and not tone down anything either, whether its speed or its slowness, just leave everything as it is when it appears.

Marguerite Duras
Emily L
Trans. Barbara Bray

Transformed

July 6, 2019

In everyone’s life there are moments when unexpectedly, for no apparent reason, a door that has been shut suddenly cracks open, a trellised window, only just lowered, goes up, a sharp, seemingly final ‘no’ becomes a ‘perhaps’, and in that second the world around us is transformed…

Nina Berberova
The Revolt

 

Lake Como, on the bluff overlooking Varenna, is located the Vezio Castle which has stood there for more than a thousand years.

It is famous for its falconry displays and its ghosts…

Created annually, these ghost sculptures are formed around willing models by a local artist. Wire mesh is used, then material and plaster from which, when set, the human is removed. These sculptures are placed at random around the castle for visitors to admire.