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Dictator

Philip Terry

Cover of Dictator by Philip Terry
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Categories: 21st Century, British, Humour, Language, Medieval, Translation
Imprint: Carcanet Classics
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Available as:
Paperback (176 pages)
(Pub. Oct 2018)
9781784106188
£12.99 £11.69
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(Pub. Oct 2018)
9781784106195
£10.39 £9.35
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  • Description
  • Author
  • Reviews
  • Dictator recreates Gilgamesh using the 1,500-word vocabulary of Globish, put together by Jean-Paul Nerrière. Globish is a business language, appropriate to translate cuneiform which emerged from the need to record business transactions. Nerrière considered it the world dialect of the third millenium; likewise Akkadian, the language of Gilgamesh, was the lingua franca of communications in the Near East. This link between script, language and business is there in the substance of the poem. An underpinning theme involving trade, here trade in hard wood and access to forests for building materials, links the poem to recent wars in and around Iraq, where the contemporary commodity is oil. This in turn links the poem to related issues such as migration and the refugee crisis. Working with refugees in Palermo in 2017, Terry was involved with putting on a puppet version of Gilgamesh where the children related viscerally to the story, particularly the boat scenes.
    Philip Terry was born in Belfast, and is a poet, translator, and a writer of fiction. He has translated the work of Georges Perec, Michèle Métail and Raymond Queneau, and is the author of the novel tapestry, shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize. His poetry and experimental translations include Oulipoems, Dante’s ... read more
     'Philip Terry treats the tablets like elements of code to be cracked open for contemporary eyes and ears. [His] version is original and powerful; he does not try to mend the fragments into a legible whole, but remembers the poem's shattered state.'
    Marina Warner
    Praise for Philip Terry  'The book is never crushed by the neatness of any systematic theory... The Lascaux Notebooks becomes an act of resistance and a testament to the value of speculative modes of enquiry. It represents a convincing attempt to demonstrate that if (when) poetry didn't exist, it would need to have been invented.'
    Richard Beard, The TLS
     'The hundreds of poems that constitute The Lascaux Notebooks make for fascinating reading... Each draft of a poem shows how the deeper meanings and nuances of language can be fleshed out with vivid detail if the translator explores the poem with persistence and imagination.'
    John Bradley, Rain Taxi

    'This is a poetry oddly out of time, neither quite modern nor entirely ancient, yet inextricably entwining both epochs...the sensation of reading poetry that may predate better mapped, more recent cultures is delicious. This book celebrates the idea that, even when stuck in a French villa with the Gestapo combing the countryside outside, it might be worth the effort to attempt to reach back through the millennia and talk to a people we can never really know.' 

    Simon Coppock, Minerva 

    'A superb and invigorating collection, breaking ground to discover the figure of our dream of lyric's song in all its lavish beauty, primitivist rhetoric and longing for ancient home in the language of the I's eye seeing itself to abstraction.'

    Adam Piette, Blackbox Manifold

     

    'What emerges is remarkable, a generative Ice Age mythology, with its own creation stories, hero narratives, a war between black bulls and red horses (a Lascaux cave- painting come to life)...magnificent, mischievous book'

    John Clegg, Modern Poetry in Translation

    'Champerret conjures up the day-to-day activities of the hunter-gatherers - cooking, scouting, trapping, making huts and tents, sewing - and, of course, their sacred rituals, dances and the entry into the dark, the underworld, the otherworld of the caves. The cumulative effect of the poems is slowly to build an atmosphere that evokes both the strangeness and the familiarity of the Palaeolithic world'

    Hilry Davies, Literary Review

    'The book presents a plausible, imagistic recreation of prehistoric living, its quieter moments and dangers, especially when bison are roaming'

    Rishi Dastidar, The Guardian

    'Exhilarating and thought-provoking... It will, I am sure, become an influential and seminal book, one which will illuminate the previously dark and shadow-filled caves of formative language.'

    Rupert Loydell, Tears in the Fence

    'The English language is shape-shifting, and Philip Terry has turned onto its multiple modern metamorphoses to produce a witty, subtle and unprecedented fugue with variations. Shakespearean themes of love, regret, loss, and misanthropy gleam through a sumptuous ventriloquising of varied idiolects taken from the new media and the global infotainment traffic, seemingly infinite permutations of structure and syntax show a delighted agility and command of intervention. I am admiring, diverted, baffled, and moved by this original, contemporary re-engagement with the Sonnets'
    Marina Warner 
    'Sparse by design, this poetry is a strong reminder of the power of words when allied to our imagination, experience and emotions.'
    Prize Judges, New Angle Prize for East Anglian Literature
     '[Philip Terry's Inferno] follows Dante's narrative freely but carefully, moving constantly between colloquial and standard, rhythmically lively and effectively drawing the reader into the story.'
    Peter Riley, The Fortnightly Review
    'It is brilliant... the pattern and rhythm very forceful and the lingo just stunning.'
    Marina Warner 
    'The lineation speeds along at a nice articulated pace, the Dantesque pitch is right and propulsive, the cast of villains is energising, the balance between language and lingo, the allusive and the obscene just right... Berrigan the perfect shambling guide...'
    Seamus Heaney
      'Though Terry's 'I' is all but absent, his eye is keen throughout, seizing on significant details of his wanderings around estuaries, around the old Berlin Wall, and finally along the digressive paths followed by W. G. Sebald through Suffolk in The Rings of Saturn. En route, Terry's precise [...] selection of language -- sampled from the vocabularies of biology, geography and history, among other disciplines -- offer hints and glimpses and conjectures about the ways in which these three modern landscapes have been shaped by their past and present inhabitants and vice versa. There is no overt editorialising, but rather a pervasive air of pensiveness that invites many re readings. These are poems of high ambition and integrity, and there is nothing else in the English language quite like them.'
    Kevin Jackson
     'These surprising and intriguing poems offer new ways of seeing overlooked places; of reading landscapes too often dismissed as illegible. Tonally adventurous, formally radical, sometimes witty, sometimes melancholically beautiful, they stand at a convergence of nature writing and experimental poetics.'
    Robert Macfarlane
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