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RRP: GBP£ 9.99
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Price: GBP£ 8.99
This title is available for academic inspection (paperback only).
ISBN: 978 1 784102 60 9
Categories: 21st Century, British, Humour
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Published: May 2016
216 x 138 x 1 mm
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Also available in: eBook (Kindle), eBook (EPUB), eBook (PDF)
Digital access available through Exact Editions
We can be sure that no-one
reads a poem Rilke’s way,
now change your life, bam,
now, presumably, change it again.
You’d never get through an anthology.
Really to read properly is to buzz low over
our future lives in a cropduster,
throwing out stumbling blocks.
from ‘Peach Tree’
Sometime during the twentieth century, the self-mythology of the literary critic fused with that of the cowboy: lone outriders practising a defunct trade. In Holy Toldedo! John Clegg tracks the critic’s silhouette over the dangerous, sun-drenched landscapes of New Mexico, California, Nashville, Utah, Oxford, Cambridge, and London. Here is Donald Davie listening to gospel radio in a Nashville taxi, and here is F. R. Leavis standing on a chair, ‘unscrewing instead the world from round the lightbulb’. Vistas of bristlecone and citrus groves, pocked with fruit flies and rain birds, fuse with the glib-core of Oxbridge England, the university science labs where ‘all three entrances felt like the back way’. Holy Toledo! is a history of English literary criticism in the twentieth century, a bestiary of the American Southwest, an unreliable guide to the desert. Generous, humorous, happily askew, Clegg’s first Carcanet collection signals the flourishing of an ‘emerging’ poet as a major voice.
Cover Image: Unattributed Mexican ex voto tablet, 1960, depicting Death, the Virgen del Carmen, and a man on horseback cheating Death
'Shaking off the dust of Cambridge, John Clegg spoors Bloomsbury, and then - Holy Toledo! - enters some western from another planet. Whatever horse he rides he makes it go, a lasso his modus operandi for capturing images.'
Marius Kociejowski 'No poet writing today matches John Clegg for wit and rigour. Holy Toledo! opens up a brilliant, uncanny frontier between the American West and the England of Empson, Davie and Woolf. Questioning language, rejoicing in it, Cleggâs poetry plunges headfirst into the Great Tradition and comes out swinging.'
Dai George Praise for John Clegg 'I must have been waiting for a poet to fuse deep sincerity and irony, craft and process, the surreal and the historical, because I read this twice in one sitting, fizzing with jealousy. Clegg's poetry is a must.'
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