Friday, April 24, 2009

Counting down to launch

Fordes Bar is the only boozing establishment in New Zealand with its own political library, so it's always been a good place to celebrate May Day, the traditional festive day of the labour movement and the left. This year Fordes Bar will be a doubly attractive place to drink on May the first, because it's hosting the launch of two brand new Titus Books.

There'll be music, speeches, finger food, and - if you beat Richard Taylor to the table - free wine from six-thirty, as Titus celebrates the arrival of David Lyndon Brown's Skin Hunger and Ted Jenner's Writers in Residence and other captive fauna.

For many readers of this blog, David Lyndon Brown will need no introduction. His brutally beautiful 2007 novel Marked Men was launched in spectacular fashion, and prompted an extended debate at this blog. Like Marked Men and Brown’s book of short stories Calling The Fish, Skin Hunger explores a seedy but loveable Auckland of crumbling Bohemian villas, underfurnished apartments, twenty-four hour bars, and dodgy nightclubs in spare but nevertheless lyrical language.

Ted Jenner is one of the more enigmatic figures in contemporary New Zealand literature. He has lived overseas for most of the last three and a half decades, teaching Classics at universities and schools and producing poems, translations, and scholarly articles in his spare time. Before he returned to New Zealand a couple of years ago, Jenner spent almost a decade in Malawi, and wrote a series of accounts of the country for the Kiwi literary journal brief. Since his return Jenner has been busy preparing a selection of a his writing from the past thirty years for publication: the result is a book that is full of time and space.

There's more information about next Friday night's event on this flyer (click to enlarge it), which also features Ted Jenner's concrete poem 'Heidegger's Instep'.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't get that poem by Ted Jenner - are all his poems weird like that?

5:45 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

Ted Jenner is interested in modern innovative methods (and Modernism and Postmodernism etc) as well as the classics - a strange but strong mix - his work is formally challenging and innovative.

[The shape of the poem here is thus integral to the poem - the "image" here - image of words can thus be "read" - there is also a humorous aspect to this...]

There have been - well prior to this century examples of such formal experimentation - Mallarme the French poets and later in the 20th Century Apollinaire are two but there were many more in fact such innovation and challenge and "freedom" might be seen in "Tristram Shandy" and Rabellais - but a closer example are the poems of Charles Olson (very much influenced by Ezra Pound the great modernist poet - but also by his own ideas of place and history, politics, philosophy) - and "concrete poetry" is also a kind of genre of its own although when we talk of the various "movements" we realise that they cross each other or mix...[lately I myself have got more interested in the Fluxus movement that interests Ross Brighton - some of it I have known and some is new to me but a lot has prefigured what I thought were my own ideas - but I may have unconsciously absorbed them via critical works etc] and anthropology etc) who was of what is called the Black Mountain School.

Ted Jenner is a major and an innovative NZ poet...but if you came to the launch, or if not able to do that, bought or somehow acquired both or one of the books) you would see the poetry of David Lyndon Brown also - which I have heard read by him - and that is in its own way - while perhaps a little less formally innovative or "difficult" (or different) - powerful in more traditional ways - that said I can attest to its beauty and power. And it is not thus "dated" - quite the opposite. Just that the style of poet somewhat reflects his or her deep concerns or their way of approach - their Weltangschaung or "world view" and so on...

This doesn't mean that " Brown is a deeply emotive poet.." (he is not only that he is also "intellectual" in his own way and shows considerable erudition also) "... while Jenner is all intellection and lacks feeling.." - that is not so - it is just that they have different ways of processing feeling and their own ideas of what is interesting or significant or beautiful...

When confronted with the unusual in life - a new kind of animal or shape or Thing on the beach - do you run from it in terror? - even something that looks awful but you don't know what it is - do you not also have curiosity about it? Something perhaps "rich and strange"? Jenner's work may seem strange but it may repay an open mind - more work by you the reader or the investigator...with patience and study - this may be greatly rewarding.

You are not alone in finding much poetry or literature difficult - I do - but I give everything I read a chance ... often reading the same work several times or coming back to it even after a month or never knows.

But Titus books - in general is not interested in humdrum work or old fashioned and cliched work - innovation and ideas and intensity or ingenious and challenging language use or insight are what is wanted.

7:19 pm  
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