Friday, October 02, 2009

David Kennedy reviews Voice Recognition at Stride

Stride continues its good work online with a review by 'New Poetry' anthologist David Kennedy of the recent Bloodaxe anthology Voice Recognition.

Not everyone's cup of tea, since it doesn't conform to the 'praise everything equally' school of literary criticism, but worth a look if you prefer a bit of politics instead with your toasted teacake.

Thanks to Roddy Lumsden for sharing this link on the Poets on Fire forum.


Poetry Pleases! said...

Dear Jane

Or to put it another way. A poetry editor looks at his list and thinks, 'Blimey, my young guns aren't selling too well. I know what I'll do - I'll bring out an anthology that features them very heavily and pretend that they are the cutting edge of the new wave!' And it's amazing how many people fall for it.

Best wishes from Simon

Ben Wilkinson said...

Thanks for posting this, Jane - a curious and fascinating review. And while I'm sure that some readers will see this as an attack on the poets included, it reads to me as an (albeit surface) discussion of the role of the poetry anthology over the past half century and, if anything, a critique of what makes for Voice Recognition's confused and often confusing introduction. One can only suspect that James Byrne and Clare Pollard have fundamentally different - if similarly dogmatic - views on what constitutes good poetry, and that their intro is the vague and meandering result of this. Their discussion of MA courses is particularly interesting in its assumptions. As Kennedy says, 'the idea that British MA programmes are collectively teaching a latter-day version of the well-made poem is bizarre'. It certainly doesn't chime with my own experience, nor those of people I know who have studied at various institutions. For one, it makes the assumption that poets who study on these courses have little instinctive guidance of their own, however 'misguided' such instincts might be. Personally, my own (what James Byrne would no doubt vaguely call) 'formal' tendencies were formed well before I was taught any creative writing.

Clare Pollard said...

Just thought I ought to correct Simon's rather poisonous assumption that 'Voice Recognition' is a cynical attempt to boost a failing list. Actually, none of the poets in 'Voice Recognition' have published a full collection, and as Bloodaxe doesn't do pamphlets, this means none have been published by Bloodaxe.

Jane Holland said...

Quite right too, Clare. I missed that - so busy with Horizon, which is launching soon, I'm not reading the comments here carefully enough.

Pipe down, Simon. Or that Siberian Express trip will be one-way, do you hear me?

Poetry Pleases! said...

Sorry, Clare.

This is a perfect example of an arrow hitting an unintended target. I did have somebody in mind when I wrote that comment, but I promise you that it wasn't you. In fact I wish you every possible success with 'Voice Recognition'.

Peace & love from Simon