Thursday, March 31, 2016

Kenneth Haynes on "Geoffrey Hill's Error"

This coming Tuesday, Kenneth Haynes will be speaking at the Sorbonne in Paris. 

Chères collègues, chers collègues,
L'EA 4085 VALE (Paris-Sorbonne) va accueillir Kenneth Haynes, Professeur à Brown University et spécialiste de Geoffrey Hill,  pour une conférence intitulée "Geoffrey Hill's Error", le mardi 5 avril à 17h30 à la Bibliothèque Louis Bonnerot de l'UFR d'Etudes anglophones (en Sorbonne, escalier G, 2ème étage).
En raison du plan Vigipirate, l'entrée se fait par le 17 rue de la Sorbonne (cour d'honneur).
Nous espérons vous voir nombreux !
Pascal Aquien, Elisabeth Angel-Perez, Françoise Sammarcelli, Marie-Céline Daniel

Thursday, March 24, 2016

In Praise of Charles Williams

Sir Geoffrey Hill's review of Grevel Lindop's study of Williams is critical of the subtitle of the book, yet gives Lindop credit for writing a full biography, taking into account the material conditions of Williams's childhood and adulthood.

Along the way, reading this review one learns of the beneficial influence of editor Anne Ridler on "Williams's later poetry." For Hill, the "spiritual shocker" novels by Williams are still worth the read. And he particularly recommends Williams's critical works, The English Poetic Mind (1932) and Reason and Beauty in the Poetic Mind (1933).

Williams is "powerful and weird in essential ways." Find out more:

Geoffrey Hill, "Charles Williams: mightier and darker" TLS (23 March 2016).

Monday, January 25, 2016

"I have a book of rap"

This is a wonderful reading, which I have just discovered today, and makes an excellent introduction for newcomers to Hill's poetry. Go to it students!

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).