Monday, 31 December 2012

Review of 2012

The most memorable poetry event of 2012: Geoffrey Hill reading in Ryland's library, Manchester. Hill, looking like an old Testament prophet, was self-deprecating and funny, 'Don't worry', he intoned, 'I'll probably only read for three or four hours'. He spoke to us as fellow poetry obsessives, and read his own work and that of other poets, giving a particularly vivid rendition of Lawrence's 'Bavarian Gentians'. It was an evening full of warmth and friendship, with a strong hint of the valedictory.

The best collection of 2012: no idea, of course, because I haven't read them all. Jorie Graham's caught my attention though, as someone on Hill's level, so to speak. I also really enjoyed 'The Ninjas' by Jane Yeh, which was exquisitily entertaining and funny. I skimmed the new Roger McGough in a bookshop and it looked really great, but it had been bought next day, and he's not fashionable, so I didn't go out my way to get a copy. And I'm still waiting for Simon Armitage's 'Black Roses: the Killing of Sophie Lancaster', which sounds really well written. I think you have to be really humble to be a great writer and I suspect Armitage, when he's not inflicting his prose on us, is a great writer, capable of profound imaginative sympathy, born out of a highly skilled but straightforward approach. I really liked 'The Overhaul' by Kathleen Jamie too, even if I do find her style, dare I say, a little bit too self-denying and worked on.

Most overrated books: 'The Salt Anthology of best British Poetry of 2012'. Boring, really, despite including Mike Haslam. You'd never guess we were in the middle of an important period of redefinition, like the 30s, 60s and 80s, from the poetry being written at the moment. Lots of good poems, of course, just few really valuable ones.  'Bevel' by William Letford (see below). Dark Film by whatisname (see below), though it spawned a remarkable review by John McAuliffe in 'The North'.