Monday, 9 February 2009

Hide Now by Glyn Maxwell

As I've already said, I really like the poet William Blake but I do also love modernist and postmodernist poetry too. I'm really fascinated by Dada poetry, ever since I went beyond Surrealism and discovered the art movement Dada, which was quite revolutionary in 1916. Although, in retrospect, it does appear to be a transitional movement between Futurism and Surrealism, which effectively cannabalised it.

I have written my own Dada-inspired poems from Tristan Tzara's newspaper poem which describes how to make a Dada poem out of newspaper clippings. It's really fun to do and it's amazing how many poetical features, like assonance and alliteration, pop up even though the poem is created using the theory of chance. I haven't typed these poems up yet but when I do I will definately post them on Handsel.

I digress from what I meant to write about in this post but it is tenuously connected with the theme of poetry (quelle suprise!). As I enjoy postmodernism poetry a girl in my Creative Writing seminar gave me Glyn Maxwell's book, Hide Now, which is his ninth collection of poems, but I was quite disappointed by it.

By reading The Guardian's review, I obviously have a lot more to learn about poetry, or I do not appreciate it as I should do... for a more comprehensive and professional review visit, or for my own liitle review of it read the following! I did try not to be too damning as there were some redeeming features to a few of the poems:

Written with a dry and colloquial diction, Glyn Maxwell’s collection of poems in Hide Now are abundant with poetic characteristics.

Theses features both help and hinder his poems, which can make for a forced read, even for an admirer of poetry or perhaps because of this. The Independent praises his “brilliantly elaborate syntax and forms” but it is this very elaborateness that make his poems too convoluted to be read with ease. His narratives are intricate yet can appear superfluous, as if he is trying too hard to be complicated by making the many poetic features mean too many things. Powell’s Books have heralded Maxwell as ‘the most adept heir to the poetic legacies of W. H. Auden and Robert Frost,’ yet for true Auden and Frost aficionados Maxwell would be a definite disappointment.

Despite these negative comments, the poem 'A Play of the Word' demonstrates how Maxwell’s lyrical style can be enjoyable and shows his complex syntactical style to its full advantage. His technique becomes more comfortable, especially for poetical novices or those who like to read for pleasure more than for analytical aggravation, in his shorter poems. 'Love Songs from plays', 'It too remains' and 'All Things Bright' are much more pleasant and amusing. Perhaps this is because the poem can be read and the book can be put down again in a space of twenty seconds.

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