"Clive James is more or less the only living poet who manages to be both entertaining and moving." ―Edward Mendelson, Columbia University
Clive James is one of our finest critics and best-beloved 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 his 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, Clive James explains the difference between the innocuous stuff so prevalent 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 examines the poems and legacies of a panorama of twentieth-century poets, from Hart Crane to Ezra Pound, from Ted Hughes to Anne Sexton. In some cases he includes second readings or rereadings from later in life―just to be sure he wasn’t wrong the first time! Whether demanding that poetry must be heard beyond the world of poetry or opining on his five favorite poets (Yeats, Frost, Auden, Wilbur, and Larkin), James captures the whole truth of life's transience in this unforgettably eloquent book on how to read and appreciate modern poetry.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Poetry Notebook is an attractive book. It is composed of various essays on poetry, interspersed with short connective "interludes", as if James the television host was making sure that we were sufficiently engaged and entertained between episodes.
In sure-footed prose James is fulsome in his praise of some, fulsome in his scorn of others. He comes down hard on Milton -- "[M]y quarrel with Paradise Lost ... begins with how Milton's beaver-dams of learning turn streams of invention into stagnant ponds" -- and his metaphoricity is his way of wearing his own learning lightly, as though learning were so deeply pondered that it was always hard-wired into the process (notice that James's quarrel in the above quotation is nicely ensconced in a figurative use of language).
The liveliness of James's mind is formidable, capable of vanquishing nearly any opponent. It is a question now whether Ezra Pound, who could be feisty, as we know, will ever get up off the canvas onto...
You're a dying man. You want to sum up a lifetime of reading and writing about poetry, and you have to do it 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 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...
“Youth and health have their virtues even in envious retrospect,” Clive James writes of poets and poems he admired in his student days, “and perhaps some of our early and ridiculous appreciations were pure and nourishing.”
In his book, Poetry Notebook: Reflections on the Intensity of Language, James, writing in the twilight of his career as poet and critic, still has that pure, nourishing, childlike joy and intensity about his subject while his delight as creator and critic in the wooly art of poetry is fully and maturely informed.
James is old school. Educated in Australia at a time when memorizing poetry, knowing something by heart, was something everyone did, he can talk the talk and walk the walk, “when to invert the foot, how to get a spondee by dropping a trochee into an iambic slot, and things like that.”
He’s not living in la la land. There is none of the “poets are the unacknowledged...
The authorised South African distributor of this product is under no obligation to honour the manufacture's guarantees/warranties or to provide after-sales service.
Please note that this item is imported from the USA, and is designed to be used in the USA. In addition, if the unit is powered it will come with a US plug and an adapter/transformer may be required. Please click here for more information on power requirements, or check with us if you are unsure or need any assistance!
Please also note that certain items cannot be imported, these include Alcohol, Animals, Batteries, Flammable Materials, Currency, Food, Furs, Chemicals, Explosives, Medications, Plants, Seeds, Supplements, Pressurized Cans, Tactical Equipment, Vitamins, Weaponry and Weaponry Accessories. In these cases, the item and information is displayed for reference purposes only. If you are not sure if we are permitted to bring an item, please send us an e-mail with a link to the item to confirm.
Please also ensure that you are ordering the correct item for your particular application as returns to the USA are costly. Product reviews are also provided for most of our items, which can give you a good idea for possible things to look out for and the quality of the item. By clicking Add to Cart, you are confirming that the item is correct and you accept the conditions listed here.