Benny B

Well-known member
Read the whole of Down Where Changed again last night, definitely one of his best I reckon. Sort of surprised to see that he identifies it as an especially 'harsh' book in that Paris Review interview, it's nothing compared to what would come in terms of harshness. There a few moments of real clarity and lyricism, some of them even have fairly conventional rhyme schemes and there are lots of memorable lines that temper the ever-present baffling WTF-ness. Spotted a Shakespeare quote in there - "storm perpetual". Might even give it another read tonight, it's a winner.
 

Benny B

Well-known member
When I read it the first time round I didn't really understand that it was a sequence of short poems with no titles, I thought it was just one long one. Breaking it down into the little bite-sized chunks and reading it with that in mind really helped.

He's quite strict in that they're mostly three line stanzas, but then there's a lot of subtle modification of that form throughout, so the book has the feeling of both tightness and looseness. It's a sequence of variations on a form ,a bit like jazz or something, or serial paintings/triptychs in art.
 

Benny B

Well-known member
Anyone read Nearly Too Much: The Poetry of JH Prynne? It looks good, I've been squinting at what's available to read on Google books.

"This the device which is almost a trademark of Prynne's, the description of an idea or emotion as if it were a physical process of the type observed by natural scientists and measured by their instruments...

From the earliest work to the most recent, this device gives the poems much of their vividness and boldness. An emotion or emotional idea, like ambition or hope, is talked about as a fluctuating chemical quantity or an agitation of physical particles"
 
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Benny B

Well-known member
This is the example given, from the ideal Starfighter, but it's obviously applied right across his work:

visible hope converted to the
switchboard of organic providence
at the tiny rate of say 0.25 per cent
"for the earth as a whole". And why
go on reducing and failing like metal: the condition is man and the total crop yield
of fear, from the fixation of danger; in
how we are gripped in the dark, the
flashes of where we are. It pays to be
simple, for screaming out, the eye
converts the news image to fear enzyme,
we are immune to disbelief.
 

Benny B

Well-known member
You do not see into the life of things, dimension-
less or not, except by harvest of data plotted against uncertainty
 

Benny B

Well-known member
See him recall the day by moral trace...

His recall is false but the charge
is still there in neural space, pearly blue with a
touch of crimson. “By this I mean a distribution
of neurons…some topologically preserved transform”...
 

Benny B

Well-known member
You do not see into the life of things, dimension-
less or not, except by harvest of data plotted against uncertainty
Just realised that this quote, from Kazoo Dreamboats, is what he's referring to in the Paris Review interview when he says he found himself in conflict with some of his greatest influences but just wrote it all into the poem - "the life of things" is a direct quote from Wordsworth Tintern Abbey.

So you can see sort of see his trajectory there from the philosophical Wordsworth-esque early stuff in White Stones, through all that period of Brass, Wound Response etc where he adds more and more scientific vocab into the mix, to where he ended up at Dreamboats - in more or less total opposition to Wordsworth in the end.
 

Benny B

Well-known member
Sorry just talking to myself, possibly quite boring, but if I don't write these things down on here I forget them
 

william_kent

Well-known member
Anyone read Nearly Too Much: The Poetry of JH Prynne? It looks good, I've been squinting at what's available to read on Google books.

I picked up a copy for £5 on eBay, probably pissed off the seller in the process because it was an auction and I was the only bidder, and other sellers are trying their luck with "buy it now" at £50-ish but I'm too tight for that

but, no, I've not read it as I'm aiming to complete Poems and the deluge of little press things that came out recently ( although that stream seems to have dried up ) before I read it and am contaminated by other's opinions ( contributors to this thread excepted! )
 

Benny B

Well-known member
Nice one you got a bargain then. It's fairly old isn't it, one of the first books to come about him maybe?

There's still a few of the later stuff in poems I haven't read but I've been chipping away at it all year, rereading some of them over and over, keep making little breakthroughs. Avoiding reading crit before you've read them is probably a good idea, but I can't resist. Are you actually reading it cover to cover in order though? I don't think I could do that myself.
 

william_kent

Well-known member
Nice one you got a bargain then. It's fairly old isn't it, one of the first books to come about him maybe?

There's still a few of the later stuff in poems I haven't read but I've been chipping away at it all year, rereading some of them over and over, keep making little breakthroughs. Avoiding reading crit before you've read them is probably a good idea, but I can't resist. Are you actually reading it cover to cover in order though? I don't think I could do that myself.

It's from 1995, although the copy I got is a paperback ( which the chancers are offering for £50-ish ) whilst the hardcover is being offered for £90 ( almost £2 a page! )

I was quite pleased to get a copy cheap, although it'll be a while before I read it

I was reading Poems in sequential order, but then my flow was interrupted by a trickle and then a flood of more recent works, and I got distracted by those small press items* which are easier to hold whilst reclining... but I want to immerse myself in Prynne's words and form my own half-arsed opinions before reading some stuffy academic's ones..

* None Yet More Willing Told was particularly enjoyable, although I've no idea what it is "about"
 

Benny B

Well-known member
This is superb on the role of etymology and 'mental ears' in Prynne's work, early and late. Haven't finished it yet but just so I don't forget I'm leaving the link here. One of the most generally useful essays I've read on him so far
 
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