free hit counter code Poetry Notebook: 2006–2014 - GoBooks - Download Free Book
Ads Banner
Hot Best Seller

Poetry Notebook: 2006–2014

Availability: Ready to download

Clive James is one of our finest critics and best-loved cultural voices. He is also a prize-winning poet. Since he was first enthralled by the mysterious power of poetry, he has been a dedicated student. In fact, for him, poetry has been nothing less than the occupation of a lifetime, and in this book he presents a distillation of all he's learned about the art form that m Clive James is one of our finest critics and best-loved cultural voices. He is also a prize-winning poet. Since he was first enthralled by the mysterious power of poetry, he has been a dedicated student. In fact, for him, poetry has been nothing less than the occupation of a lifetime, and in this book he presents a distillation of all he's learned about the art form that matters to him most.With his customary wit, delightfully lucid prose style and wide-ranging knowledge, James explains the difference between the innocuous stuff that often passes for poetry today and a real poem: the latter being a work of unity that insists on being heard entire and threatens never to leave the memory. A committed formalist and an astute commentator, he offers close and careful readings of individual poems and poets (from Shakespeare to Larkin, Keats to Pound), and in some case second readings or re-readings late in life - just to be sure he wasn't wrong the first time! Whether discussing technical details of metaphorical creativity or simply praising his five favourite collections of all time, he is never less than captivating.


Compare
Ads Banner

Clive James is one of our finest critics and best-loved cultural voices. He is also a prize-winning poet. Since he was first enthralled by the mysterious power of poetry, he has been a dedicated student. In fact, for him, poetry has been nothing less than the occupation of a lifetime, and in this book he presents a distillation of all he's learned about the art form that m Clive James is one of our finest critics and best-loved cultural voices. He is also a prize-winning poet. Since he was first enthralled by the mysterious power of poetry, he has been a dedicated student. In fact, for him, poetry has been nothing less than the occupation of a lifetime, and in this book he presents a distillation of all he's learned about the art form that matters to him most.With his customary wit, delightfully lucid prose style and wide-ranging knowledge, James explains the difference between the innocuous stuff that often passes for poetry today and a real poem: the latter being a work of unity that insists on being heard entire and threatens never to leave the memory. A committed formalist and an astute commentator, he offers close and careful readings of individual poems and poets (from Shakespeare to Larkin, Keats to Pound), and in some case second readings or re-readings late in life - just to be sure he wasn't wrong the first time! Whether discussing technical details of metaphorical creativity or simply praising his five favourite collections of all time, he is never less than captivating.

30 review for Poetry Notebook: 2006–2014

  1. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    James wrote many of the pieces on commission for Christian Wiman when the latter was editor of Chicago’s Poetry magazine. As he has been battling leukemia for a number of years (and Wiman himself fought bone cancer), there is a sense of summing up to these essays: he is celebrating the poets who have meant the most to him in his life, the poems he’s gone back to time and again. Favorite lines: “I would never stop reading [Robert Frost] if there were not something talkatively smooth about him that James wrote many of the pieces on commission for Christian Wiman when the latter was editor of Chicago’s Poetry magazine. As he has been battling leukemia for a number of years (and Wiman himself fought bone cancer), there is a sense of summing up to these essays: he is celebrating the poets who have meant the most to him in his life, the poems he’s gone back to time and again. Favorite lines: “I would never stop reading [Robert Frost] if there were not something talkatively smooth about him that allows me to convince myself he is not intense.” “When reacting to a poem, the word ‘perfect’ is inadequate for the same reason that the word ‘wow’ would be. But it isn’t inadequate because it says nothing. It is inadequate because it is trying to say everything.” “when we want to switch people on to a specific poet, we don’t deliver a complete lecture, we try to hook them with a sentence.” “there is such a thing as being so concerned with the self that one loses sight of the poet’s privileged duty, which is to be concerned with everything, in the hope of producing something – a poem, a stanza, even a single line – that will live on its own, in its own time.”

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

    You're a dying man. You want to sum up a lifetime of reading and writing about poetry, and you have to do it in less than 250 pages. The stakes could not be higher. Thankfully, James rises the challenge, often in language that rises to the status of what it exalts. Of the penultimate line in Shakespeare's 129th sonnet, he writes 'Reversing the two words "well knows" so as to wind the spring at the end of the line gives a reserve of energy to launch the last line like a crossbow bolt'. He can get You're a dying man. You want to sum up a lifetime of reading and writing about poetry, and you have to do it in less than 250 pages. The stakes could not be higher. Thankfully, James rises the challenge, often in language that rises to the status of what it exalts. Of the penultimate line in Shakespeare's 129th sonnet, he writes 'Reversing the two words "well knows" so as to wind the spring at the end of the line gives a reserve of energy to launch the last line like a crossbow bolt'. He can get a complex argument into a simple-seeming joke. Martian poetry had its moments, but was 'all climax and no build-up [...] after Martian poetry became a drug on the market it grew apparent that it might be better to have the narrator rowing out in his little boat to catch the mackerel, before the porpoises dramatically appear.' Some have complained that James includes too few women poets in his personal list of greats (which rather ignores the space he devotes to Edna St. Vincent Millay, Marianne Moore and Sylvia Plath). As complaints go, that isn't as reasonable as it sounds: personal choices are precisely that, and subject to neither quotas nor the kind of people keen on imposing them. The same goes for self-consciously 'experimental' poetry. James fully appreciates the innovations Hopkins and Whitman bring to the table, and is only too aware that bad verse is never improved by strict form. But (echoing Larkin, perhaps in many ways the hero of this book) he never lets us forget that readability isn't something distinct from intelligence, but part of it. If that might sound a tad redundant to British readers, it's a point well worth stating. The essays don't so much repeat his points but deepen them, and often challenge received thoughts - that Les Murray's recent work has added nothing to his stature, say, or the best of John Updike's poetry is found in his novels. I'm docking him a star for the moments when James forgets he is addressing a living audience instead of one made of strawmen, and which should have been edited out at an early stage. I have always found Christian Wiman's prose rather arrogant, and his poetry short of James' grand claims for it. That aside, this is a punchy, vigorous collection, and the best of it will be hard to improve on. If James' recent poems have been any indication, especially 'Japanese Maple', his next collection will be his monument.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Scott

    I love listening to old poetry lovers talk about poetry. Period. This collection of essays was also enjoyable because James and I seem to have similar preferences (Larkin, Auden, Yeats, etc.) and similar feelings for the current throng of self-proclaimed poets: "The idea that form can be perfectly free has had so great a victory, everywhere in the English-speaking world, that the belief in its hidden technical support no longer holds up... The general assumption that beginning poets had to put in I love listening to old poetry lovers talk about poetry. Period. This collection of essays was also enjoyable because James and I seem to have similar preferences (Larkin, Auden, Yeats, etc.) and similar feelings for the current throng of self-proclaimed poets: "The idea that form can be perfectly free has had so great a victory, everywhere in the English-speaking world, that the belief in its hidden technical support no longer holds up... The general assumption that beginning poets had to put in their time with technical training, like musicians learning their scales, is everywhere regarded as out of date." James contends that only a mastery of technique can enable a poet to write good "free verse," the way that - for example - Picasso's technical mastery enabled him to create new forms of art. But I guess if your readers lack technical knowledge of poetry, they won't miss it...

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

    Clive James’s essays provided an insightful and sometimes humorous look into how a poet reads poetry. He provides some excellent examples of attention to language and image. The essays also introduced me to some new (to me) poets from Britain and Australia. My only criticism is that I wished he had discussed more female poets—mostly because I am always on the prowl for new material to use in class. This lack he also acknowledges as such in the introduction.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Richard Carter

    To her great amusement during a recent telephone conversation, I explained to my friend Stense how, having finally managed to start appreciating certain poetry in recent years, I had just bought a collection by a poet whose earlier work I had very much enjoyed, only to find it utterly incomprehensible. The following day, Stense spotted Clive James’s Poetry Notebook in a bookshop and bought it for me for Christmas. What this book made me realise is it’s OK not to enjoy certain poems—even, perhaps, To her great amusement during a recent telephone conversation, I explained to my friend Stense how, having finally managed to start appreciating certain poetry in recent years, I had just bought a collection by a poet whose earlier work I had very much enjoyed, only to find it utterly incomprehensible. The following day, Stense spotted Clive James’s Poetry Notebook in a bookshop and bought it for me for Christmas. What this book made me realise is it’s OK not to enjoy certain poems—even, perhaps, the vast majority of them. And it’s OK to like certain bits of a poem, without necessarily liking the whole thing. James has a useful word to describe particularly good bits in poems: he refers to them as moments. Enjoying poetry is all about discovering such moments. James is firmly of the opinion that poetry needs to be formally constrained in some way for it to work. It needs metre, or a rhyme-scheme, or something like that—although it’s OK to break these self-imposed constraints from time to time for effect. James is clearly no fan of unconstrained, free-form poetry. I know where he’s coming from. It always felt like a total cheat to me. Poetry Notebook made me realise it was OK to feel that way. I should confess, I found a couple of the essays in Poetry Notebook hard-going. Most of them were originally written for a poetry journal, so they rightly assume the reader has a better working knowledge of poetry that I do. But the vast majority of the essays were very readable, and made a lot of sense. Having read this book, I know I’ll go about reading poetry in a different way in future. In fact, I think I might start by giving the incomprehensible collection a second chance. Highly recommended.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Toby

    To my shame, Clive James' status as a poet and critic of international renown only came to my attention a few years ago when, with his cancer diagnosis, valedictory (prematurely, as it turned out) articles began to be written in the national press. Prior to that he was entirely associated in my mind with the genial bald-headed presenter of Saturday Night Clive with his wry comments about the foibles of television. This collection of essays and articles reveals him to be a sensitive, highly intell To my shame, Clive James' status as a poet and critic of international renown only came to my attention a few years ago when, with his cancer diagnosis, valedictory (prematurely, as it turned out) articles began to be written in the national press. Prior to that he was entirely associated in my mind with the genial bald-headed presenter of Saturday Night Clive with his wry comments about the foibles of television. This collection of essays and articles reveals him to be a sensitive, highly intelligent critic - the only apparent connection between the two Clive Jameses being that sense of humour. Some of the articles are quite specialist and will only connect with those who are well ensconced in the contemporary poetry scene. Others are more wide-ranging and will be of interest to the general reader (like me). The greatest blessing to me from this book is being introduced to the poetry of Michael Donaghy and Edgar Stephen - James being something of an evangelist for the latter. Entertaining and well-worth reading.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Brimmer

    Brilliant essays on poetry by Mr James.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Tom Bennett

    Brilliant. Wonderful writing, superb analysis and yet more references to follow up.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Roger

    The long mourning of Clive James has begun, before he has even shuffled off this mortal coil. I feel sure he relishes the irony of being feted in magazine and newspaper, especially in those that would never countenance publishing any of his verse. His long decline into the grave has engendered an extraordinary outpouring of writing, both of verse and criticism. Even before his final illness was diagnosed he produced Cultural Amnesia, a work that almost defies description, and one I think will be The long mourning of Clive James has begun, before he has even shuffled off this mortal coil. I feel sure he relishes the irony of being feted in magazine and newspaper, especially in those that would never countenance publishing any of his verse. His long decline into the grave has engendered an extraordinary outpouring of writing, both of verse and criticism. Even before his final illness was diagnosed he produced Cultural Amnesia, a work that almost defies description, and one I think will be an essential guide to the glorious mess that was the 20th century as time wears on. His translation of Dante is wonderful, and the work just keeps coming. Poetry notebook pretty much does what it says on the cover - it is a collection of pieces written by James about poetry over the last ten years for various outlets, with his pieces for the magazine Poetry being at the heart. There is no doubt that behind the bonhomie and wit of his television persona, James is a deep thinker, and committed to poetry as the highest of arts. He has a lot to say, in his own inimitable way, about exactly what it is that makes a poem, and how they affect us, the gentle reader. James leads us through just what it is that makes a poem, from the memorable phrase, a master touch of rhythm and the wonderfully argued stanza. By referring back to his own discovery of verse, he reminds us of the great thrill of that first time you read a line, a stanza, or even a whole poem that grabs you by the guts and makes you feel lightheaded. In the first section of the book, "Notes on poetry", James brings together his articles from Poetry magazine, interspersed with little "interludes"; and, while each essay is a whole within itself, they link together to provide a critical framework for what James considers important. And that is genius in language tied together with structure, allows the poet to transcend both language and structure to create greatness. James refers in one essay to Michael Donaghy's concept of “negotiation”, “obtained from a contest between what the poet aimed to say and the form in which he had chosen to say it.”, and it’s fair to say that James also believes in this concept. This belief makes him very wary of free verse. While he points out that much rubbish has been written both in formal and informal modes, James suggests that informal verse has a much higher bar to jump over to be considered good poetry, and in fact used poorly can take away the effect from some wonderful lines. James doesn’t dismiss informal verse entirely though, as there are success stories, and freedom and form need to both exist to bounce off each other. All good poems must have something to say, and James is merciless to poems that don’t. There is a wonderful essay on Pound in this book, where James revisits his (and let’s face it, lots of our) early devotion to his work with a more mature eye, and calls out the Cantos for the cant that they mostly are, pointing out the irony that Pound the critic was all about meaning and being to the point, yet his poetry was often the exact opposite: “The arrow has not two points.”…. The second section of the book consists of articles and essays regarding particular poets, including Peter Porter, Les Murray, John Updike, Robert Frost and others. These writings reflect James’ conviction that poetry must be meaningful in a basic sense to really become poetry – he doesn’t like woolly language that attempts profundity, but holds to Frost’s concept of the “Sound of sense”. James has always been at his best in the mode of critic, and it is in the essay that he finds his ideal outlet. This book (and it is true also of Cultural Amnesia), while constructed of disparate pieces, can be read as a single entity – a theory with examples scattered throughout the text. It is a book well worth reading for those engaged in writing poetry: even if you may not agree with his ideas about what poetry is, his advice to “young” poets is helpful – read as much as you can, work out why something grabs you, and practice, practice, practice. There are other little gems of advice as well: James is a firm believer in the value of anthologies, as they not only bring together the “best” poetry, but they give you insights into the times they were produced, or what particular poetic movements considered seminal. The final piece “Trumpets at Sunset” is a poignant collection of paragraphs in which James laments his imminent passing and how he now lacks the time to revisit some poets that he feels he may need to read again. He also lets us know in this section that he’s not a huge fan of Milton or Swinburne, but enjoys a bit of Dryden. It will be interesting to see how posterity treats Clive James. I think Poetry Notebook is well worth reading. Check out my other reviews at http://aviewoverthebell.blogspot.com.au/

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Bennett

    When I first bought this book and began reading it, I found it difficult to read for leisure. I knew Clive James to be smart, and I wanted to know his thoughts on poetry, but I found it hard to concentrate. But as soon as I started to read this with a research-oriented mind, for university purpose, it became much more interesting and easier to get through.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Gibson

    I sought out a number of volumes on contemporary poetry after realising that most of my favourites are generations old. Surely there are good, even great poets working today? After asking three very literate friends to recommend some contemporary works, only to be advised there is nothing worth the effort, I started through my pile of books. Clive James, as expected, brings great wit and insight to these essays, but the collection is tarnished by repetition. In a collection of writings this may I sought out a number of volumes on contemporary poetry after realising that most of my favourites are generations old. Surely there are good, even great poets working today? After asking three very literate friends to recommend some contemporary works, only to be advised there is nothing worth the effort, I started through my pile of books. Clive James, as expected, brings great wit and insight to these essays, but the collection is tarnished by repetition. In a collection of writings this may be inevitable, but it still diminishes the totality. I enjoyed James’s coruscating criticism of much thought on poetry that comes from academia and of the modern poetry that gains approval in that milieu. This passage is an example. “But all too often, and especially if they stemmed from recent times, the poets made it clear - and often it was the only thing they made clear - that they were less interested in meaning than in just sounding significant. In pursuit of significance, they would say anything, apparently in the belief that they were saying everything. Bits of their poems, as if driven into their isolated positions by no impulse except random fidgets, would appear all over the page, like the manufactured evidence of an explosion that had never taken place. About such poetry, I seldom had anything to anything to say.” The same general criticism applied a decade or two ago to contemporary music, where “gestures” (musical random fidgets) were all important. Now, in music, composers are accepting the responsibility to communicate if they seek attention. Our contemporary poets should do the same. I particularly enjoyed his insights into many very fine works, some written this century. Bravo to the communicators and bah humbug to the navel gazers. James has introduced to me the works of several interesting poets and encouraged me with a critical framework from which to explore others.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lysergius

    Clive James is an excellent critics and a serious cultural voice. He is also a prize-winning poet. Since he was first enthralled by the mysterious power of poetry, he has been a dedicated student. In fact, for Clive James, poetry has been nothing less than the occupation of a lifetime, and in this book he presents a distillation of all he's learned about the art form that matters to him most. With his customary wit, delightfully lucid prose style and wide-ranging knowledge, James explains the di Clive James is an excellent critics and a serious cultural voice. He is also a prize-winning poet. Since he was first enthralled by the mysterious power of poetry, he has been a dedicated student. In fact, for Clive James, poetry has been nothing less than the occupation of a lifetime, and in this book he presents a distillation of all he's learned about the art form that matters to him most. With his customary wit, delightfully lucid prose style and wide-ranging knowledge, James explains the difference between the innocuous stuff that often passes for poetry today and a real poem: the latter being a work of unity that insists on being heard entire and threatens never to leave the memory. A committed formalist and an astute commentator, James offers close and careful readings of individual poems and poets (from Shakespeare to Larkin, Keats to Pound), and in some case second readings or re-readings late in life - just to be sure he wasn't wrong the first time! Whether discussing technical details of metaphorical creativity or simply praising his five favourite collections of all time, he is never less than captivating. Filled with insight and written with an honest, infectious enthusiasm, Poetry Notebook is the product of over fifty years of writing, reading, translating and thinking about poetry and mortality.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Blair

    There's lots of enthusiasm for different poets in this collection of essays by James. His voice is so familiar, with its sardonic inflections that it's hard not to hear it as you read the book. It's full of his trademark wit and there are some nice reflections on the nature of poetry: "But poetry remains what it has always been: the thing that hardly anyone can do. Most of the contenders are aware of that, but go on trying anyway. Since there are such thin rewards even for success, and no reward There's lots of enthusiasm for different poets in this collection of essays by James. His voice is so familiar, with its sardonic inflections that it's hard not to hear it as you read the book. It's full of his trademark wit and there are some nice reflections on the nature of poetry: "But poetry remains what it has always been: the thing that hardly anyone can do. Most of the contenders are aware of that, but go on trying anyway. Since there are such thin rewards even for success, and no rewards at all for failure, we might as well say that they do it from instinct, and call the instinct divine. And besides, there will be no lingering embarrassment from failing to make one's mark: a poem that doesn't work will be forgotten even while it is being set down. When Keats said that his name was written in water, he was right about almost every poet except himself." And the final sentence: "Better to think back on all the poems you have ever loved, and to realize what they have in common: the life you soon must lose."

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Howells

    In recent years, as he has battled serious illness, Clive James considers himself a poet above all else. It's natural therefore that in addition to writing books of poetry himself he would also write about poetry. Now I am a Clive James obsessive but I've never read any of his poetry, nor have I read a lot of poetry full stop (Larkin, Hughes & Dylan Thomas aside). As a result I struggled with this book, you need to know the poets & poems he writes about and for the majority of time I didn't know In recent years, as he has battled serious illness, Clive James considers himself a poet above all else. It's natural therefore that in addition to writing books of poetry himself he would also write about poetry. Now I am a Clive James obsessive but I've never read any of his poetry, nor have I read a lot of poetry full stop (Larkin, Hughes & Dylan Thomas aside). As a result I struggled with this book, you need to know the poets & poems he writes about and for the majority of time I didn't know either. That being said the witty turn of phrase that is James' hallmark is still in evidence.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Catyj

    I have always enjoyed Clive James' clever criticisms of the world and especially his critiques of poetry. His writings and commentary taught me the art of literary satire and have underpinned my love affair with language, with the very essence of words and their sounds, their meaning and intent. He remains one of my favourite expatriots whose writings and journeys I admire.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Abby

    I'm not sure what it was about this book, but it was like coming home to me. Every time I opened it, it was like being back on the phone with an old friend.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jan Reinhart

    Glorious reflections from the master formalist poet -- and one of the funniest men in the Letters industrial complex.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Boggischewsbooks

  19. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jon Milton

  21. 4 out of 5

    Robigus

  22. 5 out of 5

    Bryan Miller

  23. 4 out of 5

    Abraham Phillips

  24. 5 out of 5

    John Watt

  25. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lesley

  27. 4 out of 5

    Henry

  28. 5 out of 5

    Helen Palmer

  29. 4 out of 5

    Samodh

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kate

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.