Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Move over St. Patrick, the GLP is here

No doubt it has escaped no-one that today is St. Patrick's day. The Chicago River was green this weekend, and around the world Irish-inspired events are taking place, with or without leprechauns. Maybe that's why the timing on this piece by Matthew Sperling couldn't be better, that is, if you assume that there's some kind of relationship between the GLP and Sir Geoffrey Hill.  Check this blarney out:

Friday, May 9, 2014

Charles Péguy next week

For those interested in Charles Péguy, this centenary year is particularly rich with events, and this coming week condenses a very high number of conferences and talks about Péguy including:

La pensée de Péguy, 1914-2014, a conference held at Ecole Normale Supérieure and Institut Catholique de Paris (14-15 May)

Péguy is the featured writer at Saint Rémy la Calonne's annual event, Le Printemps du Grand Meaulnes (16-18 May)

Péguy will also be spoken about at the Salon des écrivains croyants in Paris, Mairie du 6e arrondissement (May 17).

For those who want to follow the calendar of events provided by the Péguy Association l'Amitié Charles Péguy, please join the association (it's a non-profit dedicated to keeping the memory of Péguy alive, at  a mere 10 euro fee per year, to which you should add another 40 euros for the quarterly review about Péguy). ACP maintains a website where you can get more information about Péguy (in French).

Those interested in Sir Geoffrey Hill's The Mystery of the Charity of Charles Péguy may wish to visit the Facebook page of the association, as featured here:

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Murphy's Hill = integrity

Well, at last Kenneth Haynes has been mentioned with some admiration for having tackled the task of getting Hill's twenty-one volumes together for us, the consuming readers. Hayden Murphy's review of Broken Hierarchies in today's Scotland Herald reveals a bit about the company he keeps with Dominicans and Jesuits. That must be good training for writing a fair-handed and subtle review.

Since the reviewer has been reading Hill's poetry since the 1960s, it can be assumed that he has had time enough to digest the material, though for him like the rest of us, coming to an assured space of complete comprehension of the Daybooks is not something humanly possible after only one reading. And thinking about the limits of our meager human intelligence—compared to the omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, and immutability found among the theologian's list of God's traits—reminds me of Saul Bellow's description of  how happy God would be to sit down incognito and relax at a café in France. This anthropomorphism has often entertained me: with such a list to cope with, why wouldn't God be tired and want a coffee or a drink? With further joy, I rather imagine God's lingering in the café—ordering a second drink—while reading the Daybooks. I bet She would understand everything on a first reading!

I shall look forward to reading a bit more of Mr. Murphy.

Hayden Murphy, "Geoffrey Hill: Broken Hierarchies - Poems 1952-2012 (OUP)," Scotland Herald (January 11, 2014).

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Rahim's Hill = expressiveness

The interview with Sir Geoffrey Hill in today's Telegraph, by Sameer Rahim, the deputy literary editor of the journal, is excellent; and the photos by Clara Molden are as grand as the text itself. Hill claims he is after "expressiveness" in poetry.

Sameer Rahim, "Geoffrey Hill: Poetry should be shocking and surprising," Telegraph (December 14, 2013).

Friday, December 13, 2013

Climate / is now dynamite.

Here's one illustration for this line from Broken Hierarchies:

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Collection of Reviews and Comments for Broken Hierarchies

This post will grow as new reviews are discovered.

Colin Burrow, "Rancorous Old Sod," London Review of Books 36:4 (February 20, 2014).

Hayden Murphy, "Geoffrey Hill: Broken Hierarchies - Poems 1952-2012 (OUP)," Scotland Herald (January 11, 2014).

Nicholas Lezard, "Broken Hierarchies: Poems 1952-2012 by Geoffrey Hill—review," Guardian (November 20, 2013).

Jeremy Noël Tod, "A vast volume offers the chance to assess one of poetry's greats" in The Sunday Times (November 8, 2013).

David-Antoine Williams, "Broken Hierarchies: Precursor to a Variorum?" (November 6, 2013).

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Mr. Bojangles, dance!

Wouldn’t it be great if authors would write a review of their own works that took up the leading points, highlighting the original accomplishment, and guiding the confused reader a bit into the work itself? Readers of modernist texts in particular might find this kind of exercise helpful. Charles Péguy did just that, under a pseudonym, for his late long poem Eve. There were several reasons for this. Speakers of French will notice that it is a language that contains the phrase "Moi, je…." But rather than being taken up with himself, Péguy was anticipating the kind of reception his work was likely to get, and wanted to avoid misinterpretation. He must have been worried about being overly admired by the very people he found himself more inclined to be writing against. One hundred years ago, in 1913, Péguy was writing with a driven urgency.

Geoffrey Hill’s Broken Hierarchies arrived in my mailbox yesterday. I think the notion of driven urgency might also do well to describe it. It is Hill’s own "boutique des cahiers" of sorts, containing sixty years of poetic composition. In the revised, much longer  "Hymns to Our Lady of Chartres" I read: 

Things are desperate here as I believe
you know, Lady. The poor in heart possess
three fewer skins; subsist on swallowed glass;
Commedia constrained to no reprieve.  (165)

Seasoned and un-seasoned readers of Sir Geoffrey Hill will find much to be excited about in the word-play and resonance in this volume, especially in the most recent poems. For the nursery-rhyme crowd or those that enjoy Stevie Smith:

Mind drift. Mend craft. Deemed folly. Shamed. Daft.   (606)

Tony Harrison fans may be intrigued: 

You should all fuck less
and pray more. Climate 
is now dynamite. (618)

For those who prefer Colin Firth, there is:

The old King’s speech favoured our new wireless— (634)

For capitalism-bashers:

Out-of-sync Dollarton on the north shore. (639)

For Benjamin Britten fans:

Buoyed by the storm music from Peter Grimes (641)

For those who favor iambic pentameter combined with social justice (see the context):

Still I would check my name if I were you. (650)

Then there’s a bit of Auden-bashing (but I think in jest):

Very strange man, Auden, very strange man. (659)

Oh, and by the way, with the 100-year anniversary of the great massacre of World War I on the horizon, those looking for allusions to that war will not be disappointed. This is true especially in several poems published here for the first time. To some extent the volume commemorates the poet’s luck at having a father—at having the luck of being fathered, and those circumstances that saved the poet’s father from the Somme.

Singing its beatitudes is perhaps a rather pitiful attempt at a first encounter with the book, and (so far) I’ve only given it about three hours. But then, reviewers and mere bloggers can be comforted from the outset as to the company they keep, when one reads: "Small steadfast throng / go get it wrong"(608). Of course it will take a bit more time to "come 'round right" as in the Shaker Song, but this I have already understood: If Péguy was a "footslogger of genius" (144), Hill is the "jumping boy"(487) that never stopped tap dancing. "He talked of life," as Jerry Jeff Walker sang in 1968. But these words should be heard with the voice of Nina Simone: 

Mr. Bojangles, Mr. Bojangles, Mr. Bojangles, dance.  

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Impatience is a virtue

Broken Hierarchies: Poems 1952-2012 is out now, or almost.  A survey of Amazon in France and UK as well as the OUP   on-line this morning shows that it "is not yet available". . . . but there is already a review by Nicholas Lezard in the Guardian (November 20, 2013).  It's not that what is said in this review is off, but it's perhaps a bit curious that there are no page numbers? Nonetheless, before entering into any argument with the venerable reviewer, I shall endeavor to read the book itself.

The impatience to lay hands on a copy grows with the mounting buzz.  One site indicates the publication date is November 28.  That means we'll all be waiting at least four more days before it ships.

Poetry Foundation, Chicago (November 20, 2013).

Monday, November 4, 2013

Poetry Lecture, December 3

The next Oxford Professor of Poetry Lecture will be Tuesday, December 3, 2013 at 5:30 pm in the South School of the Examination Schools.  Sir Geoffrey Hill will speak on "Poetry and 'the Democracy of the Dead'".

Podcasts: http://www.english.ox.ac.uk/news-events/regular-events/professor-poetry

Friday, September 13, 2013

Sir Geoffrey Hill at Villeroy, September 8, 2013

On the 99th anniversary of Péguy's death, commemorated by the Amitié Charles Péguy at Villeroy on the Sunday that follows September 5th, Sir Geoffrey Hill met several descendants of the poet and read from The Mystery of the Charity of Charles Péguy.

The five stanzas are from the tenth section of the poem that was first published thirty years ago this year.  Next to Sir Geoffrey Hill is Michel Péguy, Péguy's grandson. On the other side, with the microphone, is the Mayor of Villeroy.  This video was produced by Olivier Péguy, Péguy's great-grandson.  Sir Geoffrey Hill was voted an honorary member of Amitié Charles Péguy earlier this year. More information can be found at the Péguy association's website (http://www.charlespeguy.fr).

Thursday, August 22, 2013

European Paths and Voices

Sir Geoffrey Hill will be reading from his work at 6:15 pm. The event is free and open to the public. Catholic University of Paris, 21 rue d'Assas, 75006 Paris, Room B01.

9:15 Opening words by Pauline Piettre & Ineke Bockting
Elizabeth  Müller (Nantes/ICP), (Yeats and Dante)
Brian Arkins (NUI, Gallway),  "The Theme of opposites: Yeats and Oedipus"
Tea & Coffee Break
Peter McDonald (Christ Church, Oxford), "Gaiety and Dread: Late Yeats and Hill"
Keynote Address 12:15-13:15
Colbert Kearney (Cork),  "September 2013"
Jennifer Kilgore-Caradec (Caen/ICP), "Yeats, Pound, Eliot, Péguy, Hill"
Susan Ang (U. Singapore), 'Poetic conversations': Hill, Pavese, Pindar 
Short Break
Peter Behrman de Sinéty (ENS), “Nothing broken”: translated Europeans in Geoffrey Hill’s Orchards of Syon
Kenneth Haynes (Brown), "European Witness: The German Resistance in the Poetry of Geoffrey Hill"
Short Break
Sir Geoffrey Hill (Oxford Professor of Poetry) reads from his work