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11 posts categorized "Poetry"

15 April 2010

Mexican Poets on tour

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Photo copyright crispin hughes 
Víctor Terán with David Shook, Photo credit: Crispin Hughes

Last night Aquiles and I went to the Photographers' Gallery. I often stop off there at weekends but this time I was going for poetry rather than photography (although I did manage to have a quick look at some of the photos of the winner of this year’s Deutsche Börse prize, Sophie Ristelhueber). The gallery was hosting the launch party for the Mexican Poets' Tour, which has been organised by the Poetry Translation Centre. Apart from having some very nice Mexican nibbles and the opportunity to chat with our friends from the Mexican Embassy, we were treated to readings of poems by David Huerta, Coral Bracho and Víctor Terán, together with English versions by their poet-translators Jamie McKendrick, Katherine Pierpoint and David Shook. David and Coral both write in Spanish, but Víctor writes in Zapotec (mainly spoken in the south of Oaxaca), and reminded us that Mexico still has over 60 indigenous languages.

We had a great evening and would urge you to catch one of the readings that are scheduled between now and the end of the month in various parts of the country. Tonight you can hear them at the Instituto Cervantes.

[C.H.] 

18 March 2010

The Beats and friends

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I’m a bit sceptical about the usefulness of bibliographies in these days of online searching. What’s the point of just creating a subset of your catalogue which anyone can do for themselves? You either have to go for a very short list of key titles, or add some value by having some useful commentary and/or bring to light material that can’t easily be found.

More years ago than I care to remember, Jim (a now long retired ex member of the team) started to compile a bibliography of our holdings of items by and about the Beat generation of writers. He did provide those useful analytical entries, and in the process of compilation, he also came across material we didn’t have – and acquired it, substantially enriching the collections in the process. I should also emphasise the ‘and friends’ of the title, since this bibliography extends well beyond the usual suspects. It should have been published about 5 years ago, but for reasons I won’t bore you with, it wasn’t. It was a real labour of love for Jim and I hate to see good work go to waste, so I’ve decided to put up a pdf of the original bibliography, warts and all.

You won’t find any material published in the last few years, which is a shame since there have been so many ‘anniversaries,’ leading to a big rise in the critical literature on Kerouac, Burroughs, Ginsberg et al. But you might be surprised by the amount of original material that we have. Of course, the bibliography wasn’t originally intended as an online resource, so the order, index and numerous other things now leave a lot to be desired. But the amount of work needed to revamp it is beyond me or anyone else in the team at the moment (although it remains on our ‘to do’ list). Be warned though – it’s a big document of over 4MB and 745 pages. And this is only the first part (printed material) - we also have a listing of all our relevant sound recordings which hopefully will be an even bigger revelation in terms of just how much we have in the collections. The Sound Recordings pdf should appear next week. In the meantime, do let us have your comments on the bibliography – either direct to the blog or you can email us at Americas@bl.uk.

Download BL beats bibliography printed collections

[C.H.]

18 February 2010

Revolt against the English

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Yesterday, I did a short 'show and tell' for a visitor from Rhode Island.  This included some early Providence printing, Thomas Jefferson's inscribed copy of Notes on Virginia (which was also owned by Henry Stevens, the nineteenth century book dealer and gunpowder merchant, who bought for both the British Museum and John Carter Brown), and a collection of colonial female printers to tie in with a recent acquisition of a letterpress facsimile of the Declaration of Independence.

We also looked at some of the large collection of pamphlets dating from the American Revolution, many of which were printed in several editions - in New York, Pennsylvania, Boston, but also by sympathetic printers in Britain, such as J. Almon in London, and also in Edinburgh.

One of these particularly caught our eye.  To some extent, it may be counted as an official publication - Abstract of the Resolutions of the General Congress Assembled at Philadelphia (New York, reprinted Edinburgh 1775) [8176.a.38]. It begins thus

THE CONGRESS RESOLVES to acknowledge the King,

But not to obey him in any one thing...

We sometimes wish all government documents were as iambic and rhyming.  This, however, originated in the New York Gazette, and is a tory account of the Continental Congress in verse - or 'Dogrel Metre, for the help of weak memories' (p. 1). 


[M.S.]