Friday, 28 November 2008

Never beyond your Ken...

I haven't had a book review for a while so I was quite excited this morning to see the one of 'More about the song' over at Ken Armstrong's place. Far be it from me to suggest what you might do about xmas shopping but you know...or you ken...it's still for sale from me...or various shops...or Amazon...

All this reminds me that I keep meaning to sort out a reviews page for my website (my favourite reviews so far are Sorlil's Poetry in Progress one from back on 4th September, ink-sweat-and-tears from back in July and the one in 'The Skinny' in...July...I think). I would do links now but my laptop is unwell and I am on Mark's mac which I barely know how to use! I think I wore my machine out yesterday working, as I was, on a review of sorts of 'Blonde Roots' by Bernardine Evaristo. I'll put that up in a couple of days...when I've got my own machine back!

p.s. machine fixed so links are on now!

30 comments:

Frances said...

Its catching I think Rachel. My computer is in bits all over the desk and I'm using Neil's which has Windows Vista. Who invented this stuff?

Rachel Fox said...

I think you might be right about the catching...you're not the first person to say they're having trouble too today!

Dave King said...

I think a reviews page sounds an excellent idea. Hope your laptop recovers soon!

Rachel Fox said...

He's working on it now (day off? Not in this house!)
x

The Weaver of Grass said...

Hi Rachel. I have been trying to buy your book but have got in such a mess doing it that the price has kept increasing!!! Shall try again another day when my brain is more in gear! Hope your computer soon feels better.

BarbaraS said...

Looking forward to seeing what you think of Blond Roots! Review links would be a good idea :)

Rachel Fox said...

Weaver...the price going up? Where were you trying to buy it...Woolies?

I will do the links, Barbara...today's a messy day!

x

Ken Armstrong said...

did I forget to mention 'Buy the Book'? What a dork I am! I'll edit something in.

Rachel Fox said...

Yes...it's less annoying if you say it!
x

Poetikat said...

Windows Vista? Don't get me started!

Kat

hope said...

I think major appliances know when Christmas is near...meltdowns are their way of saying, "Hey, improve ME!"

Nice review by Ken. Here, I'll stand on the soapbox for you, "Buy Rachel's book! Excellent Christmas Gift..or any other holiday you celebrate...like Help-a-Poet-Day."

Rachel Fox said...

We use Ubuntu not Vista (and it's back working again - ta very much tech support). My advisers only have bad words to say about Vista.

Thanks Hope. Soap box ad moment appreciated.
x

The Solitary Walker said...

No..! Woolies were offering it HALF-PRICE... so long as you ordered some pic 'n' mix Larkin lollies and Sissay sherbets at the sAme time...

Rachel Fox said...

I like the idea of pic'n'mix Larkin...bit like the cocoa and Kingsley Amis I suppose.
x

The Solitary Walker said...

Not sure I can Cope with all that so it's Ovaltine and good night for me...

tashabud said...

Hello,
I came here because Ken said so. Isn't he so powerful to command me and the others just like that? (Sorry Ken, you really are not that powerful.) Of course it was his great review of your book that compelled me to come visit. I'm glad I came. He's right about you not being up there in your arse. Lol. You're a down-to-earth person.

I'm only an amateur novelist, but when I read a great review by one of the bloggers, I felt I was in heaven. However, when another blogger criticized me and my novel, I felt I was going to die in shame!

I'm getting over it now. I just read a post tonight that writers must develop a thick skin to survive in the business. Therefore, I'm taking her advice to heart.

Congratulations to you. Hope your computer will soon be mended from whatever ailments it has.

Tasha

Rachel Fox said...

Hi Tasha and welcome
When I saw what Ken had written about me not being a "‘fuddy-duddy up-her-own-arse’ type of a poet" I laughed (on the one hand) and thought 'uh oh!' (on the other)! And he called me 'accessible' - some poets think that's a swearword I think! It's a funny business with poets altogether...some really cannot understand why other people would see them in that way (because they're right about everything - obviously!) but then some people DO see some of them that way and those people can't ALL be wrong (can they?)! I mean look at Ken - he's a good guy, a thinking man, an open-minded person, a writer - but he still thinks of poets in that way. Why is that?

I think it's that some people are just less good at communicating with others not like themselves maybe...and that some poets fall heavily into that category. Some people think poetry IS life (maybe?)...and it's not a bad idea in some ways...but it doesn't necessarily help those people get their poems and thoughts over to anyone else (outside the poetry circle, if you like)! I am not like that (music is life, not poetry, don't they know anything?) so it's not my main problem. My problem is more to do with getting poetry people to think I'm not just 'one of those...accessible poets'...because anyone could write that crap, right?

Partly what I've been doing with all this blogging is trying to communicate with some other poets (and other writers too) because in my day-to-day life I don't mix with writers particularly (I don't go to writing groups, I don't work in any kind of writing environment or anything, I live in a small town with no regular literary events). It's been worthwhile - I have come into contact with poets and writers (and others) who I find interesting but still approachable too. For me it's a simple thing - I live my messy life, I learn as I go and I write what I can, when I can! If people like any of it then hurray...and off I go again...
x

Ken Armstrong said...

That's interesting Rachel.

I suppose I might have done better saying something like 'accessible *for me*'. Dealing with poetry is a completely subjective thing and one man's meat is another man's 'inaccessible'.

My usage is certainly not in the 'swear-word' side of the spectrum. I feel your writing opens a door that, to quote John Denver (and hopefully to wind you up a bit :) ) "..it invites you to come closer, it wants to show you more." That's my perception of your work.

The fact that I am encouraged to 'read on' is not a slur on your integrity or depth of thought, neither is it a slur on those poets who 'lose me at hello'. All of it is just my own subjective response to the material and, if I am not to vanish up my own arse, that is really all of us can do.

I was chuffed to see your detailed reply to the point. Come back at me on this if you feel the force, it's all good. :)

Rachel Fox said...

Ken - I wasn't at all suggesting you should have written your review in any other way! You should write exactly what you think - that's the beauty of the blog, isn't it..no editor saying 'I'm not sure about that bit...' I really like it when non-poetry people write about poetry - I hate the idea of a poetry ghetto...a place where no-one else dare enter for fear of low-flying sonnets and literary critics with poison pens...er... poised. I think there should be poetry around for all kinds of readers...from the most intellectual and academic to the very, very least.

Bits of your review just made me laugh because I imagined the face of...one of the more... uptight poets as they read it (which they won't so that's OK). Some poets would rather be tarred and feathered than called 'accessible'. I am happy to be called anything other than crap...well, you know what I mean!

x

Rachel Fox said...

p.s. I have put the links in to the other reviews in the post too now.
x

Ken Armstrong said...

Never mind me! :)

The point for discussion is that 'accessible' is a very good thing. What poet aspires to be inaccessible? To confound the reader with their work? Two kinds, I would suggest, the 'up-their-arse' ones and the out-and-out bluffers who need to hide behind artistic license to conceal the fact that they couldn't write their was out of a paper bag! You, of course, are neither. :)

To qualify this, poets may be inaccessible for reasons involving dialect, complexity of thought or simply the passage of years. Poets may wish to be understood at least at some level and fail. This is all good. I really couldn't name a deliberately inaccessible poet, just ones that I wouldn't necessarily get.

And *I* am close to the lowest common denominator - if I get everything, then the poet is aiming too low, really. :)

(I don't get all of yours Rachel)

Rachel Fox said...

Good points all, Mr Armstrong.

So which poems of mine don't you get? They all seem so obvious to me of course! I would be interested...you can tell me publicly here or email if you prefer.

Ken Armstrong said...

It's be wrong to nit-pick bits and pieces that I didn't 'get' - plus it would reveal far too much about me - more than I might want to show. Like that 'Rorschach' story of yours about the guy in his bed. We musn't say too much lest we say too much :)

I will say this - in rereading your poem, 'The Last Leaf' I was touched by these lines:

You look down at the ground
Where the leaves all fall some day
And wonder how it will be
To lie in the mulch for a while

It isn't just leaves who do that...

Rachel Fox said...

I wouldn't see it as nitpicking - not at all. I'm just interested to know what's clear, what's ambiguous, what's totally impenetrable to readers (because I know what's clear, ambiguous and/or impenetrable to me...sometimes!).

That 'last leaf' has been a poem that people have liked quite a bit. When I read it in public it always earns the huge poetry-audience sigh at the end (Hugh McMillan talked about that in Edinburgh..). I wrote it about someone who means a lot to me. A few years ago now.

As for that story...yes, it is a bit of an odd one. It came about after one too many rape scenes in films partly. I just thought...someone somewhere enjoys watching these...why else would there be so many of them (I know they are an easy shock/serious drama moment technique but it's never that simple). There was some other stuff involved too. I'm not sure what I think of that story...but it's out in the world now.

I had to look your 'Rorschach' reference up...the closest I've been to comic books is the film 'American Splendor' that I watched the other week. Great film - have you seen it?
x

Ken Armstrong said...

I will definitely try for some nit picking so, leave it with me a while. I'm also easing through your stories. Fun with 'Rorschach' - i'm familiar with the Watchmen character (movie coming soon) although I was only referring to that ink-blot-test where you see butterflies and things in the inky paper. :)

Will seek out American Splendour. ta.

Rachel Fox said...

Sorry - got the wrong end of that stick! Which is an unfortunate phrase with that story in mind...

Sorlil said...

It's a gift when a non-poet or, better still, a usually non-poetry reader likes and wants to read your work. I'm glad you like my review!

Rachel Fox said...

I particularly liked the bit in your review about me smuggling myself into your house! It really made me smile...and partly because I have this stupid problem with travelling these days I love the idea of being able to go off and visit people without actually leaving the house!
I know my book is...a bit odd in some ways...so I really appreciate it when people like it...when they like anything about it!
x

Liz said...

Good review, Rachel, and 'accessible' is pretty much 'a must' or else it's a lost cause - I suppose there are different levels of accessible, I like a bit of 'between-the-lines' and 'words' too - a bit of room for reader manoeuvre(sp?): )

Rachel Fox said...

Liz - absolutely...different levels is what there should be...all kinds of poems for all kinds of people, all kinds of subjects, all kinds of times (with nobody looking down on anybody else...). I'm a bit of an idealist I know...still a poet can dream eh...isn't that part of the job?
x