129. (Ishion Hutchinson)

When a poet seems to matter, it often seems that his or her course matters too; they should be on a trajectory, arriving somewhere new, or returning us somewhere renewed. The movement between Ishion Hutchinson’s first collection, Far District, and his second, recently published, House of Lords and Commons, can be felt in the third and final stanza of the first poem, “Station”: . I … Continue reading 129. (Ishion Hutchinson)

124. (Ishion Hutchinson)

Some poets have more to say than others; some poets have better resource than others for saying what they want to say; Ishion Hutchinson is the rare poet who falls into both categories, and is even rarer for having the ambition to speak with authority. His collection Far District is as good as any contemporary poetry out there, and it’s exciting to read him as … Continue reading 124. (Ishion Hutchinson)

121. (Ishion Hutchinson)

Ishion Hutchinson is a genuinely exciting poet, a true heir (because he’s so obviously a true poet) to Bishop, Lowell, Heaney, Walcott…I would like to discuss some of his outstanding and dominant qualities. I’ll consider his work generally, but will begin by quoting a poem that provides some sense of what he is about, and what he does so distinctly well. Elsewhere, I will provide … Continue reading 121. (Ishion Hutchinson)

119. (Geoffrey Hill)

We are accustomed to hearing that Geoffrey Hill makes few concessions to readers, that he bristles at accommodation, compromise, and accessibility. And indeed he does in many circumstances. But in other regards, he is astonishingly accessible and accommodating; his poetry opens for a reader, as no other poetry no, a particular, convincing and moving experience of language, one that allows for readers to feel the … Continue reading 119. (Geoffrey Hill)

118. (Geoffrey Hill)

Geoffrey Hill died last week, on June 30, at age 84. Nobody doubts that he wrote some of the greatest English poetry of the twentieth century; but the critical consensus on Hill’s poetry falls out of harmony when confronted with the collections that coincided with its close. William Logan, one of Hill’s stauncher American admirers, is disparaging: “The caterwauling of “The Triumph of Love” (1998), … Continue reading 118. (Geoffrey Hill)

104. (Geoffrey Hill)

In the late collections where Eugenio Montale is most present, in translation and as an interlocutor, Hill’s voice finds most relief from its gnarled self-doubts and thorny metaphysics. Montale stands at the center of Al Tempo de’ Tremuoti, in a series of six translations (Hill calls them “variants”) of “Il Gallo Cedrone,” from La Bufera e Altro. Il Gallo Cedrone Dove t’abbatti dopo il breve … Continue reading 104. (Geoffrey Hill)

88. (Derek Mahon)

Itching dissatisfaction; Mahon is harder to get a hold of than any one poem suggests. The same could be said, probably, of minor poets whose poems don’t add up to a sustained exploration, but instead a series of imitations, forays, and excursions. But Mahon really doesn’t seem one of these. A stable point of comparison is needed and, reading the long-poem “Harbour Lights,” one is … Continue reading 88. (Derek Mahon)