POETRY COLLECTIONS I COULDN’T DO WITHOUT IN 2002
1. The Light Trap, John Burnside
2. Collected Poems,
3. Selected Poems,
John Ashbery, reissued
4. Dart, Alice Oswald
5. Magpie Words,
7. The Ice Age, Paul
Nerve, Glyn Maxwell
9. Lintel, Gillian Allnutt (published 2001)
10. From the Pine Observatory,
(published 2001, the best first new collection I’ve read in
TOP TEN BENCHES:
1. Mullion Cove, Cornwall
2. Worcestershire Beacon,
Malvern Hills, Worcestershire
3. Courtyard, Saint Michael’s
4. The churchyard, Breedon
on the Hill, Derbyshire
6. Pendennis point, Falmouth, Cornwall
7. The graveyard, Jordan’s
Quaker Meeting House, Buckinghamshire
8. My garden, Kings Heath, Birmingham
10. Top of the cliff, Dunwich,
11. Saint Anthony in Roseland,
In 2002 David Bowie, Kurt
Schwitters, Alice Lenkiewicz, Beth Orton, Cassandra Wilson, Chloe
Meakin, Patti Smith, Labelle and Laura Nyro compensated for the manias
of fundamentalism and the irrelevance
of New Labour.
01 Best art exhibition of
the year: Surrealism: Desire Unbound (Tate Modern
02 Best TV Performance of
the year: David Bowie 'Rebel Rebel' on Later:
Programme 1 18/10/2002 (BBC2)
03 Best poetry translations
of the year: Kurt Schwitters:
poems performance pieces proses plays poetics Pierre Joris (trans.)
Edited by J Rothenberg (Exact Change)
04 Best new poetry mag. of
the year: Neon Highway (ed. Alice Lenkiewicz)
05 Best pop album of the year:
Beth Orton. Daybreaker (Heavenly)
06 Best jazz album of the
year Cassandra Wilson. Belly
of the Sun (Blue Note)
07 Best new poem of the year:
Chloe Meakin 'Meteorite Cavern' (in Fire
08 Best reissue of the year
Laura Nyro/Labelle. Gonna Take
A Miracle (Columbia/Legacy)
09 Best retrospective compilation
album of the year: Patti Smith. Land
10 Most bizarre song of the
year: Beth Orton 'Carmella (Four Tet Remix}'
10 BEST FILMS I SAW IN 2002
Atanarjuat the Fast Runner
In the Mood for Love
ET, 20th Anniversary Edition
What Time is it There?
Bowling for Columbine
ALAN HALSEY’S TOP TEN 2002
IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER:
Karen Mac Cormack's Implexures, long in progress & at last
appearing in magazines, & read in ms
band performing Angel High Wires & Fluvium, particularly the performance
at The Cluny, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, October 8th
Geraldine Monk's 50th Birthday
John James Collected Poems (Salt)
Lorine Niedecker Collected Works ed. Jenny Penberthy (U. Cal.)
Richard Caddel Magpie Words (West House)
Robert Clark's exhibition
at Centro de Arte de S. Joao de Madeira: sections of The
Nether Edge Story, with
David Annwn Euroboros (Ispress)
The Japanese Garden in Portland,
The ring-tailed lemurs at
GARY BOSWELL’S TOP TEN FOR
like to be a diamond when I die – new poem collection by John
2. ‘Bunsen Burner’ – Rogue
Chart entry by John Otway
3. Keith Tyson – Turner Prize
4. Estelle Morris – Resigning
Education Minister (now back devoted to improving Education Standards!)
Fourth Hand – John Irving's new novel
6. John Culshaw's TV impressions
of Ozzy Osbourne & Doctor Who
7. The incomparable League
of Gentlemen's third series.
8. An old copy of Dennis Potter's
collected prose works I found in a second hand bookshop.
9. The Stanley Spencer retrospective
exhibition staged at Kendal's Abbot Hall Gallery in September.
10. The demise of Camelot
and the National Lottery (actually, I put this top as the absolute
highlight of the Year destined to bring a better quality life to us
MY FAVOURITE TEN POETRY BOOKS
Skid, Dean Young [University of Pittsburgh]
Poems, John James
President of Earth,
David Kennedy [Salt]
Slowly, Lyn Hejinian [Tuumba]
the Rabbit, Iain
Caddel [West House]
Booth’s Book of Visions,
Maurice Manning [Yale]
1-38, Toll, Rachel
Blau DuPlessis [Wesleyan]
Short History of the Shadow,
Charles Wright [Farrar, Straus and Giroux]
Head spins with too many options,
so I'll stick to books and one record album.I read all or listened
to in 2002. As good as now.
1. Lorine Niedecker, Collected Works
2. Sven Lindquist, A History of Bombing
3. John Suiter, Poets on the Peaks
4. Jim Harrison, The Raw and the Cooked
5. Robert Gordon, Can’t
be Satisfied: the life of Muddy Waters
6. George Evans, The New World
7. Andrew Roth, The Book of 101 Books
8. Dianne Waldman, Joseph Cornell – Master of Dreams
9. Faith Jaycox, The Colonial Era, an eyewitness history
10.Johnny Cash, The Man Comes Around (two-LP record)
TEN BEST THINGS
Usinish light on the port bow, ready to furl the genoa, drop the main,
Loch Skipport opening up.
dropping with the anchor
as if we had always been here.
Cloud clearing, the islandsí colours deepening.
Buds breaking, spring surge, this much growth on the young trees.
Firelight, of course; friends, laughter. Wim Mertens in the background.
Clean sheets, fresh air folded into them.
Mr. Barwise’s bread, toasted (butter, honey).
The hot bath after a day on the land. More: perhaps a whisky.
Unbroken sleep, all night no dreams.
Goslings; honeysuckle hanging in the old thorn at twilight, new potatoes;
the river in spate; stone walls warm under palms long after a red
sun has sunk behind the Scots pine.
This is cheating:
what constitues home
changes like weather.
Tenth: the taken-for-granted,
invisible until lost,
THE TEN BEST THINGS I CAN THINK OF IN 2 MINUTES AT A PUSH
DECEMBER 23RD 2002
1. The Flaming Lips, live at
2. The Flaming Lips: Yoshimi
Battles the Pink Robots
3. Kenneth Koch
4. Kenneth Koch: A Possible
5. Ethan Paquin, The Makeshift
6. The Human League, live at
City (the girls were tremendous)
7. Milly and Moby, our 2 new
8. Moby (not the same Moby)
live at Sheffield City Hall
9. Everything by Simon Armitage
10. The discussions on the
British Poets list (really really kidding now)
MY FAVOURITE TEN CDs 2002
Friction, Tim Berne
), Sigur Ros
light that fills the world,
John Luther Adams
of season, Beth
Gibbons & Rustin Mann
Cutting Room Floor,
Over the Rhine
Amassed, Spring Heel Jack
Beeline, Peter Case
Original Sound of Sheffield,
the Wind, Stephan
TOP TEN POETRY BOOKS OF THE
YEAR 2002 (in no particular order):
C D Wright: Steal Away. New and Selected Poems (Copper Canyon Press)
Wendy Mulford: and suddenly supposing. Selected Poems (Etruscan Books)
Nathaniel Tarn: Selected Poems (Wesleyan University Press)
Gustaf Sobin: In the Name of the Neither (Talisman House)
George Oppen: New Collected Poems (New Directions)
Lorine Niedecker: Collected Works (University of California Press)
John Ash: Two Books: The Anatolikon / To the City (Carcanet)
Richard Caddel: Magpie Words. Selected Poems (West House Books)
John James: Collected Poems (Salt Publishing)
Federico Garcia Lorca: Collected Poems (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
TOP TEN LIVE CDs 2002
Resplendent, Vigilantes of Love
Wild Angel: Jimi Hendrix live at the Isle of Wight
Live and Unreleased,
Time, Miles Davis
Bootleg Series Vo. 5: Bob Dylan live 1975, The Rolling Thunder Review
The Loom’s Desire: Laura Nyro
Live at Town Hall, New York
City, September 19-20, 2001, Laurie Anderson
Hands: Captain Beefheart and his Magic Bands live in the UK 72-80
Tim Berne and the Copenhagen Art Ensemble
at the Roxy Theatre,
TOP TEN MOST DISAPPOINTING READS 2002
10. Peter Carey, True History
of the Kelly Gang (Faber)
This is great stuff really. But. It’s takaing an awfully long time
to finish. Because I never know the ending? Nah. Because the ceaseless
narrative (almost entirely unpunctuated) started to grate a whole
back. Plus the lack of a glossary for the slang. I’m three quarters
of the way done and determined to see it through to the death. Sorry.
That was cheap.
9. Doris Lessing, The Summer
Before the Dark (Penguin)
A charity shop find, and old now (1973) it’s ‘a summer journey of
self-discovery’; mid-life crisis to you and me. But it’s so out of
date and so very middle-class that empathy with the main character
is impossible. I don’t see why this subject should date though. Women
still age, still have to work hard negotiating the internal shifts
via the often overwhelming external view of ageing. I’ve grown up
with Doris Lessing novels; they’re part of my literary landscape.
So I suspect that the leafy suburban setting is now a motorway, as
I don’t recognise this place at all.
8. Aristotle, The Nichomachean
I read this twice, because I had to. I appreciated the structure of
the arguments without retaining much of the content. Odd, that. The
disappointing bit is my inability to grasp what seems, when reading
it, to be perfectly clear. It’s so... slipper. How did he do that?
And why? We’ll never know.
7. Chris Stewart, Driving Over
Lemons (Sort Of Books)
I bought this after hearing it reviewed on radio 4. I thought I’d
like it because it was about rural Spain,
and it had the added curiosity value of being penned by an ex-drummer of Genesis. It’s
a clam, gentle, plodding, autobiographical tale of buying and working
a smallholding in Andalucia. It isn’t meant to be ‘literature’, which
is just as well. One for convalescing after a minor op. (I shan’t
be buying the sequel though.)
6. Howard Marks (ed.), The Howard
Marks Book of Dope Stories (Vintage)
OK. I didn’t read it. But Steve did, and Steve says it’s like trying
to get a buzz from a packet of sage and onion stuffing mix.* An obscure
collection of fact and snippets of fiction (mostly lifted from other
anthologies), compiled by some dodgy geezer who is old enough to know
better. At £7.99, and because Steve said as much, I’m going to assume
it’s a rip off. (*He didn’t actually say this, but he definitely didn;’t
enjoy the book. Please don’t try sage and onion at home. I made that
5. Anita Shrieve, The Pilot’s
I didn’t hate this at all. In fact, it was quite pleasant. It’s what
it is. And what it is is adequate, marketable storytelling. I put
it on my list because on the inside front cover there’s a scarey full-page
photo of the author. Bloody hell! Shoot that publicist!
4. Judi Henricks, Bread Alone
A first novel, which is always interesting of itself, wherein we are
supposed to feel sorry for a woman so boring her husband has an affair.
She makes bread a lot. She seems to find overweight women offensive.
She buys throws for the sofa. Good grief. Forget ‘journey of self-discovery’;
this is a one-stop bus ride to the supermarket for a bag of flour.
3. Pamela Stephenson, Billy
(Have given, it away so don’t know the publisher offhand)
You know what this one’s about. Enough. Don’t be tempted to buy it.
Well, if you must, there’ll be plenty in the secondhand bookshops
2. Martin Stannard, Conversations
With Myself (Stride)
To paraphrase a Harry Enfield character, ‘Oi! Stannard! No, it ain’t
funny, it ain’t clever, and yer insights are about as deep as Barbie’s
navel!’ This book is really Adrian Mole’s ‘A’ Level English Lit essays.
(Top mark, C+ for self-belief.) I am very upset. I have always liked
Mr. Stannard’s poetry, so what more natural than to branch out into
this collection of reviews? Unfortunately, I can’t see the point in
having convictions about poetry which are continually undercut by
appeals to fairmindedness. Better to be an honest bastard than a dishonest
sweetie. The P. Violi crits are the best of a bad bunch.
1. And finally the Award for Most Disappointing Read of 2002...
Simon Armitage, Litte Green
This story should have stopped after the brilliant introductory chapter:
a chunky description of the noises in an attic and the memories called
forth... ‘Lying awake some mornings, I hear a click in the airing
cupboard under the stairs – the central heating clocking on – and
the boiler, calling for gas from under the North Sea.
Then the ignition, when the sleeping genie of the pilot light explodes
into life – whap! Then the ticking of the junctions and joints as
the pipework rouses itself, stiffens with heat... the cistern sounds
like it could blast into orbit around the Earth. That’s how it feels.
It feels like this.’ Now wouldn’t you think, reading that passage,
that this was going to be a good novel? Wrong. After that, the story
blunders from one offensive scene to the next. I couldn’t finish it.
I read up to the sheep slaughter and decided to stop punishing myself.
Blokish nonsense such blokes would never read. Hideous.
TEN CDs RELEASED IN 2002
July Skies: Dreaming of Spires
St Etienne: Finisterre
ballboy: a guide for the daylight hours
Augie March: Strange Bird
Russian Futurists: Let's Get Ready To Crumble
Cody: Distance Learning
Future Bible Heroes: Eternal Youth
Vitesse: You Win Again, Gravity!
Mum: Finally We Are No-one