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Showing posts from May, 2015

"An unfashionably honest poet":
Andrew McMillan's physical (Cape, July 2015)

Raw and urgent, these poems are hymns to the male body – to male friendship and male love – muscular, sometimes shocking, but always deeply moving. We are witness here to an almost religious celebration of the flesh: a flesh vital with the vulnerability of love and loss, to desire and its departure. In an extraordinary blend of McMillan’s own colloquial Yorkshire rhythms with a sinewy, Metaphysical music and Thom Gunn’s torque and speed – ‘your kiss was deep enough to stand in’ – the poems in this first collection confront what it is to be a man and interrogate the very idea of masculinity. This is poetry where every instance of human connection, from the casual encounter to the intimate relationship, becomes redeemable and revelatory.

Dispensing with conventional punctuation, the poet is attentive and alert to the quality of breathing, giving the work an extraordinary sense of being vividly poised and present – drawing lines that are deft, lyrical and perfectly pitched from a world of…

Does 'abstract' or 'experimental' really mean 'elitist'?

from an interview with Michael Donaghy by Andy Brown, 1998


Yes. Not that there's anything especially wrong with that. But look at those sexy words used all too frequently to describe contemporary art and literature, 'experimental' and 'revolutionary'. The first is a metaphor filched from science - experimental art doesn't have a control group, doesn't collate and publish its findings. And 'revolutionary' properly describes a brick thrown at a police cordon, not a poem in Parataxis. Among the most cherished illusions of the avant-garde is the idea that bourgeois art consoles, pleases and mollifies with received notions of beauty, whereas avant-garde art shocks and challenges and doesn't seek to please. I'm always dismayed by this kind of self-delusion. The audience for avant-garde art is a middle-class audience that pays to be shocked, bored or insulted, much in the same way that Mistress Wanda's clients pay to be horsewhipped. It's an…