Paul Stubbs reviews ‘Rilke in Paris’

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RILKE IN PARIS
Maurice Betz (Translated from the French by Will Stone, Hesperus Press, 2012)

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“Rilke, on earth, lived a life akin to a pre-natal being, one whose sensations in existence remained as homogenous and pure as his time spent in the womb. He rejected birth and death as a consequence for existence, determining that this paradox was the reason behind which he would discover the absolute, i.e. through his own modifications of reality. Jean-Paul Sartre writing of Kierkegaard said ‘The beginning of the thinker’s existence is analogous to a birth. This is not a rejection but a displacement of the beginning. Before birth there was non-being; then comes the leap…’. Every morning in Paris, amid the ash-heaps of dreams, Rilke awoke to the metaphysical and limbless stump of his own still absent body. He saw the world as if between the parenthesis of each new death, whether one of his own or that of another human being.” (Paul Stubbs)

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‘Cacophony of tongues’ – Paul Stubbs reviews Michael Lee Rattigan’s ‘Liminal’

LIMINAL
Michael Lee Rattigan
Rufus books, September 2012

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‘Poetry’, wrote Octavio Paz, ‘is the other voice. Not the voice of history or of anti-history, but the voice which, in history, is always saying something different’. He was of course talking of what is re-created in silence, beyond History and of what governs its conversations and logical discourse. Michael Lee Rattigan also is seeking to pinpoint that ‘other’ voice, for everything that he writes it seems exists only to advance silence, or at least our unmediated access to it—while consciousness is no more than a fine vessel of flesh and blood stretched over the diaphanous musculature of each word; for this poet does not produce a merely verbal language, no, rather he is writing the syntax of listening, the anti-aesthetics of un-naming and sucking back into the lungs the protean impulse of a visible mind. In this collection, Rattigan is in many ways attempting to cross what the French poet Philippe Jaccottet described as ‘the unique uncrossable space’, that which constitutes our ‘elsewhere’, the incongruously familiar place that occurs when our reality-horizons are wheeled out of the mind. It is in fact the logocentric destination that a writer like Rattigan would like one day to return from.
Paul Stubbs

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‘The Eternal Procession’ – Paul Stubbs reviews Yves Bonnefoy’s ‘The Arrière-pays’

The Arrière-pays
Yves Bonnefoy

Translated by Stephen Romer – Seagull Books, 2012

‘Yves Bonnefoy is first an abstract form, then a poet. Therefore a work such as The Arrièrepays is but a shadow giving notice of his shapes still to locate a sundial. He is what Jean-Paul Sartre said of  Baudelaire, that he had the posture of ‘a leaning man’ (‘d’un homme penché’); one acutely adrift of the comet of his own flesh and who, burning up in the drag of his own sentences, holds within his fist only the shredded remains of each exploded space. When Rimbaud wrote ‘To every being, several other lives seemed to me to be due’ he opened up in knowledge and in poetry the first true terror-pores of gnosis, allowing a poet like Bonnefoy to access his own unpurged mind, to conceive of what Yeats revealed in Vision—‘all things dying each other’s life, living each other’s death’. To witness the mirage of this elsewhere in time and space (this place which Bonnefoy names ‘the arrière-pays’ i.e. an imaginary hinterland born of what he calls the ‘unknown feeling’), this poet has first to return to Eden, to locate the one tree in which the fruit is still flesh, and whose bark, if peeled back, reveals only his own still unused bone.’
Paul Stubbs

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Will Stone reviews ‘Ex Nihilo’

Ex Nihilo, by Paul Stubbs
Black Herald Press, 30 september 2010
120×160 – 46 pages – 8 euros
ISBN  978-2-919582-01-3

Order the book / Commander l’ouvrage

To read an excerpt / Pour lire un extrait

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Paul Stubbs’s Ex Nihilo is a pocket sized rumble of literary thunder, the first feelers of a language storm that makes the susceptible reader who first opens it, look up at the sky ominously. Holding a copy of Ex Nihilo, the reader is obliged to repeatedly take new bearings, constantly rechecking a mental compass whose needles quiver wildly in all directions, for the long poem within is unlike anything else found on the bookshelf of a smugly stocked Waterstones. In fact it won’t be found on the shelf of Waterstones at all, because it is far too radical and incendiary to sit alongside the bloated dignitaries and carefully positioned courtiers of the Bloodaxe, Faber and Carcanet fiefdoms. The infernal heat given off by Stubbs’s constantly firing cannons means this book must be held in a secure area, away from the carefully tended prize beds and gentle rustling of self assurance inherent to the poetry ‘business’, the poetry ‘society’, the poetry ‘school’, the poetry ‘prom’, poetry ‘please’, the increasingly predictable production line of the poetry ‘industry’ in the United Kingdom. No, it must be held in the head only, and from there a realisation of Ex Nihilo’s importance departs and like a flaming beacon lit from peak to peak, communicates from one reader to another. This is an underground book because it does not seek to flatter tastes already established, rather it seeks to leave a skin even as it grows a new one, to lift the bark suddenly, catastrophically, so the creatures beneath are forced to run madly, blindly into the new light that interrupts their slumber, and that’s the way Stubbs wants it. Stubbs’s is a restless deception-proof poetry that keeps moving on from the page, or indeed off the page, as if this white space is a laughable plot on which to establish a permanent settlement. ‘Only a word thin fragility, this page, bearing again only my own footprints…’ For here passes a tireless vagrant with a weighty sack of religious doubt and existential horror knocking at door after door, where he has been assured a meaningful response will be forthcoming, but behind which only an icy wind blows…

EX NIHILO

The poet Stubbs has two significant previous collections to his name. The Theological Museum, 2006 (Flambard) and The Icon Maker, 2008 (Arc). In these works Stubbs cemented his reputation for unconventional ‘unscripted’ unremittingly challenging forms. These sometimes sublime sometimes disturbing poetic architectures, over which deep space blizzards seem to continually rake, cast a sometimes majestic sometimes bitter beam into a future void of darkness, a beam whose exact trajectory and final target defies any coherent conclusion. Ex Nihilo should be passed from hand to hand and by word of mouth. It should go under cover of the night in which it was born, so as to avoid being stopped and searched by the poetry society police. This book is so far from the habitual workshop ‘facilitated’ fare, with their deathly diamond precision and priestly obedience to nurture a language they know and feel safe in, which in fact screams to be let loose and to turn savagely on its creator. Paul Stubbs states with visionary confidence and an absence of pretension at the outset of his poem, ‘I begin alone, waiting for my eyeball, like a sun, to rise, and cast out my own shadow from the shape of everything…’ and he ends thus ‘And so imagining how my slack breathing it still sways the grass of a world I no longer have access to, I think on…’ For Paul Stubbs is above all else helplessly corporeally integrated with his poetic utterances. His body and his mind are locked in a fusion that has somehow through virtual existential annihilation constructed a fantastic makeshift raft of language, a useful object to support his mind for the duration, with branches felled from the forest of eventual silence, a platform on which to lie exhausted and drift through whatever remains, after the sanctioned insanity and myopia of his epoch finally give way. One can only think of Klaus Kinski as the jungle inexorably closes in during the finale of the Herzog film ‘Aguirre Wrath of God’, staggering about his half drowned raft and holding up a tiny monkey in his gloved hand to heaven. Paul Stubbs is one of the few genuinely original poets operating at the moment, and his work deserves a wider distribution. Stubbs’s next collection of poems concerns the paintings of Francis Bacon as interpreted through Stubbs’s vision. An enthralling prospect indeed.

Will Stone, first published in Agenda, Vol 46 No 3 (April 2012)

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Le BH2 vu par le Visage Vert

“Mais ce sont les œuvres — poèmes, nouvelles, essais — qui priment avec, pour seul commentaire, la traduction (puisque l’un des principes duBlack Herald est de publier tous ses textes au moins en français ou en anglais, quelle qu’en soit la langue originale, de toute façon toujours restituée.) Le seule exception, déjà citée, est l’introduction de Stubbs (on peut la lire ici), laquelle réaffirme la primauté des voix sur les auteurs eux-mêmes et préconise leur émergence, “sur la rive opposée à l’égotisme contemporain“. À cette lumière, et bien loin du narcissisme sans joie où s’embourbent nombre de revues ou de magazines littéraires, on ira donc, dans ce deuxième numéro du Black Herald, chercher des voix dont le seul point commun est probablement de ne jamais s’écouter parler (ce qui les rapproche, toutes poétiques qu’elles soient, de la littérature de genre si chère au Visage vert).”

à lire sur le blog du Visage Vert, revue et éditeur.

The Black Herald #2: Carbon based passion – Part 2 – by Lisa Thatcher

Second instalment of Lisa Thatcher’s review

“Language forms the imprint of our neural pathways in the carbon of our makeup. It is the power that reminds us chance and chaos only appear to be in control. The poets calling is to reach the place when the words only bare a family resemblance to each other. To find in each word, its own throbbing core, linked to all cores. The seed of an evolution of the human mind.”

to read the review

to read the first instalment

The Black Herald #2: Freedom from the necessity of success – by Lisa Thatcher

“If anything properly defines the beautiful work collected in The Black Herald #2 it is anti-establishment. The editors need the writers to be great – no more than great – they must also lack self-consciousness. They must hint at their age and be a whiff of something forthcoming. None of this, claims Paul Stubbs in his excellent introductory essay, is available to be ‘taught’ in the odious literary classroom and he infers, can’t be taught at all. Paul’s cry is that of the sackcloth wearing wilderness prophet – a contemporary Elijah – his Ba’al the sanitized classroom conversation preaching ‘creativity’ – instead Paul demands the best of what a human creature can produce.  Paul wants none of the domestic security produced by marrying literature (Ahab) with capitalism (Jezebel) to produce works of comfort and sanctuary – the taming of  perspicacity. He stands, wielding the works of Nietzsche and Rimbaud, unkempt and wild, demanding the writer produce the work

“… out of his own reality – to the point at which he is afterwards unable to endure his own work.”Nietzsche.

Paul Stubbs wants blood. And nothing other than blood is an answer to literatures call.”

Lisa Thatcher

To read the review 

Theoretical Animals

Paul Stubbs reviews Gary J. Shipley’s Theoretical Animals (BlazeVox books)

“Shipley’s prose prefers to steel-plate itself into inversion, mental tautness, deadly emanations, and we are all invited to wade through the desolate swamp of his imaginings as, like any truly radical writer, he unveils a world that seems to surpass our own cognizant capacity to believe in it. The writing is devastating enough to fossilize older, more redundant literary forms, his aphoristic litanies and murderous cacophonies glass-case our more conventional modes of writing forever, while breaking down the DNA of the traditional reader-writer relationship, just as Lautréamont believed that fiction writing served only its own tethered-end (“Even if I had no true event to recount to you, I would invent imaginary tales and decant them into your brain”). ”

http://paulstubbspoet.wordpress.com/2011/10/14/the-meaning-making-machine/

Anticline

Paul Stubbs review ANTICLINE by Clayton Eshleman (Black Widow Press) in The Fiend magazine.

“Clayton Eshleman is one of America’s most pivotal visionary poets writing today, a word-creator and a language inventor whose work has delved deeper than nearly anyone else into the strata of the poetical core of this planet. He wasan editor of the influential literary magazine Caterpillar which survived, exploded and prospered for 20 issues between 1967 and 1973, and of the magazine Sulfur, published for 46 issues from 1981 to 2000. He is also recognized now as the leading translator of the poetry of Peruvian writer César Vallejo, the fruit of forty years work which culminated with the publication of The Complete Poetry of César Vallejo (California Press, 2007), shortlisted for the 2008 Griffin International poetry prize. Besides, he is the translator of Aimé Césaire, Antonin Artaud and Pablo Neruda, among others.”

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The Death of the Gods

The Death of the Gods – Review of Paul Stubbs’s  The Icon Maker by Paul Stubbs (Arc Publications) by Andrew O’Donnell in The Fiend magazine.

“Even the notion of beliefs and faiths are called into question here, and so the book dares to go further than Nietzsche’s critiques in that all forms of oppositional thinking, whether in poetry, philosophy or other discipline (even the notion of ‘discipline’ or ‘area of thought’ infuses our fractured mental approaches to how we communicate with each other; what better way to show how we objectify in our wrestlings with our chosen spiritual paths, surely Everything is what interests the human mind?) Regardless, the philosopher Robert Anton Wilson would call this reticence toward any form of dogmatism a dialectic, or line, of consciousness that deals in Maybes, rather than the Yes or the No. We now live in a thoughtful maybe-ish world, in which proselytizing gets little done, and dogmatizing is repellant to the average individual. The newer generations mental lives exist somewhere in between. With the acceleration of knowledge the older generations can mistake this for apathy in the young, as compared with the knowledge available to them in previous cycles, and possibly mistakenly cheer on the overly dogmatic poetic tone as a result. In this way Stubbs is putting pressure on the notions inherent in the tone of Pound’s imagist protocols (definite images, clear lines of narrative thought) and trying to strike balances between abstraction and conventional narrativization, the high lyric voice, and the hard-headed and (ironically, in this case?) Biblical tone.”

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Return to the Light

Return to the Light: “Bright Dusky Bright”
by Eeva Liisa Manner
Translated by Emily Jeremiah – Waterloo Press 2009

a review by Paul Stubbs, published in The Fiend

When reading the poems  of Eeva-Liisa Manner, and discovering  the landscapes that gave birth to them, I am reminded of these lines by the great Finnish/Swedish poet Edith Sodergran, lines in fact inscribed upon her gravestone, ‘See, here is  eternity’s shore, here the stream murmurs by, and death plays in the bushes his same monotonous melody’, for amid the surrounding cacophony of nothingness, the ice-empires  and snow-creatures that  dominate the psychological terrain of this poet’s imagination, we sense the always pervading presence of conscience and creation combined, in  poems that  seem to de-personalize and tether the ‘I’ of the poet  to a frozen post  in the  mind of the reader  for the poem’s duration.

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‘I thought, but was not.
I said animals were machines.
I had lost everything apart from reason.
Give my regards to all those
Whose knowledge is secret…
Tell them that philosophy is loneliness and a dead body
Which copulates with reason’

‘Love’s not so pure and abstract as they use[d] to say’

A review of Clarities, by Nigel Parke

“The uniqueness that is Blandine Longre’s in this collection of poems is twofold, in my opinion. Firstly, she has identified a domain: the powerful complexity of instincts and vicissitudes, and their processes and their drives. Secondly, she has found a language and a form for their expression. It involves neologism, courageous experiment and a fierce intelligence to have kept such a sustained control. There is an immanence of the object in her writing which is entirely compelling.

Blandine Longre invites us to share an intensity of seeing, comprehending, reading the other and beyond: responding to the judgment call and interpreting the momentous subtlety of the moment. She has constituted an art of the matter of seeing: seeing in a most intimate and shockingly dynamic way. The irreducible integrity of the image that Pound once envisaged is herein extant. Clarities is an astonishing debut. Blandine Longre has unleashed a new, vital, metaphysical animal upon an unsuspecting public. Be warned!”

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The reweaving of time, Bei Dao’s poetry

by Paul Stubbs 

The Rose of Time: New and Selected Poems by Bei Dao
Edited by Eliot Weinberger, Translated by Yanbing Chen, David Hinton, Chen Maiping,
Iona Ma-Cheong, Bonnie S. McDougall and Eliot Weinberger
New Directions, 2010, $16.95 (288pp)

Just as Hölderlin through his writings wanted to make ‘disappear’ the ‘divisions in which we think and exist’, so too in the poetry of Bei Dao we experience consciousness again as a hypothesis; a new world problem to solve through the regeneration of language. From poem to poem a battle is fought between image and word upon the coterminous continents of his imagination as, like a poetical glass-blower, Bei Dao breathes new eternal shapes into words. To Western twenty-first-century eyes, his poems may appear born of the American ‘Imagist’ or ‘Objectivist’ schools, but they are in fact new concentrated structures of his own Chinese language—elliptical and oneiric images turning over the lathe of the planet. This selection by New Directions brings together, for the first time, five previous collections translated into English, beginning with The August Sleepwalker, in which we encounter the early work, much of which initially appeared in the influential underground journal that Bei Dao co-founded in 1978, Today (orJintian). The journal was banned after two years, but not before his name, and poetry, had been spread widely.

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Let’s get visceral

A review of Paul Stubbs’s EX NIHILO, by Nigel Parke

“The new, long poem, ‘Ex Nihilo’, is a tour-de-force. Building on the ground of ‘The Icon Maker’, here a world of new beginning and becoming is imagined and its logics and incidentals pursued. It’s a poem about the act of creation, and the poet’s rib is the Adamic starting point for a prolonged meditation on the genesis of art, creativity and poetic consciousness. The ‘I’ which begins the poem is an I which disintegrates, fragments, as the body becomes a discorporate symbol within a Picassoesque landscape of bone-rib outcrops and Svankmajeran intrinsically motivated, corporeal assemblages. Some of the phraseology is sublime.

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Paul Stubbs’s ‘Ex Nihilo’ is the antidote to a poetry publishing current which appears to admit the most trivial of efforts. Poetry is a broad church and there’s no intrinsic harm in accessibility. However, Stubbs is coming from an entirely different place. He’s not writing for the reader who is looking for the habitual ‘performative’ element, though performance there is in every scalpel’s incision. The poet as surgeon diving deep for the soul, excavates the flesh, avoids his own anaesthesia and confronts that primeval landscape in an acupunctural ecstasy with only the agony of an already conscient subjectivity echoing the necessity of intervention.”

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Oh Welcome Complexity

A review of Blandine Longre’s CLARITIES by Paul Sutton, for Stride Magazine.

“The usual point of reference for this sort of corporeal (and feminised) writing would be Plath, especially since she is quoted in the introduction. But the effect, especially above, is more reminiscent of Rimbaud’s ‘Illuminations’, This is interesting, because English is a second language for Longre, yet clearly the poems were (well) written in our great language – sorry for that vulgarity. (…) There’s an Ashbery quote, about French being too clear and logical a language for some of the nuanced tonal effects achievable in English. Yet look at what Celine, Genet or Artaud achieved, poetically. Indeed, look at the best poems in this collection. Although written in English, they have the unmistakable clarity and relentless logic of the best French writing.” – Paul Sutton

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