on warbling from a to d [ari-up to devendra banhart]

Some deaths are bludgeoning and Ari-Up’s recent dying was one such. You can hear why just by listening to that great first album, Cut [1979], the maddened monkeying in heaven singularity of her manifested voice on ‘New Town’ etc. All those sounds went in to me so faithfully and long ago that really I don’t need to hear them from without as it were.

However, listening to ‘I Heard It Through the Grapevine’ today sounded more like tomorrow than yesterday; striking for one of the least digitally conceived songs ever [despite its very crisp production]…

I realised too that the warbling Continue reading “on warbling from a to d [ari-up to devendra banhart]”

on being uncagey about john, uk tour of cage exhibition into 2011

John Cage Ryoanji 17 February 1988 -pencil on Japanese handmade paper (ph Guy Mannes-Abbott)

Every Day is a Good Day [just say it, try… ]

This complete show of John Cage’s paintings and drawings is one that you need to go see, be with in real time and place. It’s not only that it doesn’t reproduce well [despite there being a very good catalogue with excellent reproductions newly photographed in it here updated link 2020] or that I’ve badly scanned one of my favourite delicate drawings done -in place of meditation- with more than one pencil around stones that were special to Cage [the allusion is to the famous dry stone garden at Ryoan-ji, Kyoto] but that until you’ve journeyed to stand before them, share their space you haven’t actually seen them.

I loved this exhibition of works for their affective simplicity -openness, lack of guile- and transforming leap from the disciplined procedures that generated them to their qualities as visual art. Continue reading “on being uncagey about john, uk tour of cage exhibition into 2011”

preface to epitaph, anne carson and nox in london nov 2010


Anne Carson Iceland 2009 [Photo Einar Falur Ingolfsson]

[Notes on Carson’s London reading of Nox, a couple of years after the last advertised event -in the wake of Decreation and also at SBC- was cancelled. They posted themselves raw a few days ago, here they are at least spell-checked…]

The first and easy thing to say about my obvious need to catch Anne Carson reading in London [Southbank Centre Poetry International Festival opening event Tuesday Nov 3] is that having gone only to see/hear the most significant poet in the English language actually read, perform, be in public the whole event was an instructive delight.

Carson was the last on of 6 poets, all of whom were worth seeing/hearing -if not memorable as such or as yet- but notable for me Continue reading “preface to epitaph, anne carson and nox in london nov 2010”

on getting well soon, amin maalouf’s origins 2008

AM: “what I would like to do is leave ajar the door to my office”


Amin Malouf had only just got started with a nice blog [here] before that same blog announced on March 13th 2010; “As some of his friends already know, Amin has had some health concerns that have kept him away from this blog for the last few months. He hopes to be back soon, and he extends to everybody his heartfelt apologies and his best regards.”

Wondering today if there were news and hoping it might be good news; recovery and a return to writing even, I remembered that I wrote a very short review of Origins, his last book to be translated into English, for The Independent and decided to post it below.

Meanwhile, enjoy this [inevitably contentious yet intriguing] page of his;

My Web of Words;

1-Alcohol. 2-Turkey. 3-Orange. 4-Roumi. 5-Greek.  6-Egypt. 7-Franc. 8-Mattress. 9-Baghdad. 10-Table.  11- Punch. 12-Rose. 13-Apricot. 14-Hazard

His UK publisher’s page for Origins is here.

Screenshot 2018-03-12 10.30.56

Continue reading “on getting well soon, amin maalouf’s origins 2008”

sparks of the one and only muriel in rome 1971

CLICK still above to watch interview

New Directions, one of the -if not the- only unashamed publishers of books left, send out a newsletter which currently flags up their edition of Not To Disturb [1971] and a forthcoming Curriculum Vitae [1992] and links to Maud Newton’s blog which itself links to this gorgeous interview with a profanely regal Muriel in that palatial apartment in Rome [cf Martin Stannard’s recent biography]. It’s a very nice way to spend 29 minutes and 44 seconds…

CV is one of my favourite of her books, one of my favourite books altogether [republished in 2009 by Carcanet here]. I remember being stunned by its clarity of recall of an early life in Edinburgh. It’s all there, down to the wood of the chairs in each classroom kind of detail, an all-present narrative prose that contrasts almost completely with my own inevitably elliptical memory and what -to risk baying English laughter- I have to call precisely, my equivalent poem [very possibly a bad poem, but I’m being exact rather than qualitative]. Incidentally, claiming Spark is one of the few times that conventional thinking has any appeal to me. If a notion of patrilineage were a substantive approach to life, I’d simply be a Scot -albeit via lengthy colonising detour -which rather underscores it…

Continue reading “sparks of the one and only muriel in rome 1971”

on mesmerising allure, dirk stewen at maureen paley until nov 14

I posted a few words on this show when it opened and The Guardian got excited about it too, see here. There are a few days left to see it here … I drafted a review of it also but have been insanely busy since -not least writing about other visual art- and plain forgot about my text. I’m posting it here as a pdf for ease, mine mostly, but surely yours too [why the aversion to pdfs?], kind of in the humbling spirit of the thing. That is, to encourage you to not miss the show.

My review is a rough, the requisite pressure of imminent publication has not yet been applied, but here follows a little excerpt with a couple of the images it refers to;

Continue reading “on mesmerising allure, dirk stewen at maureen paley until nov 14”

radwa ashour’s spectres, pamuk & pappe, november books of choice

Radwa Ashour’s Spectres [Atyaaf أطياف] is now available in English [Trans. Barbara Romaine] from Arabia Books in the UK and makes essential reading. Alongwith new books from Orhan Pamuk [HUP] and Ilan Pappe [Saqi], Spectres is one of the November Book Choices at Babelmed [at my suggestion]. Hooray for Babelmed; yet another reason to check it out…

UPDATE 03.xii.2010 A very short review of Spectres, commissioned by The Independent, will appear soon…

future movements jerusalem, startlingly good review on babelmed

Shuruq Harb Wiki City 2010

“The highlight of this year’s Liverpool Biennial is the art from Palestine on show in Future Movements Jerusalem. It’s art made against the forcings of Occupation, about a city currently forbidden to most of the artists in the show.”

My piece about this excellent show has just been published here on Babelmed, a really admirable and completely independent ‘Mediterranean culture site’ based in Rome, which appears in English, Italian, French and Arabic editions.

Continue reading “future movements jerusalem, startlingly good review on babelmed”