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Dictator

Philip Terry

Cover of Dictator by Philip Terry
RRP: GBP 12.99
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This title is available for academic inspection (paperback only).
Paperback
ISBN: 978 1 784106 18 8
Categories: 21st Century, British, Humour, Language, Medieval, Translation
Imprint: Carcanet Classics
Published: October 2018
216 x 135 x 14 mm
176 pages
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Also available in: eBook (Kindle), eBook (EPUB), eBook (PDF)
  • 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 has taught at the universities of Caen, Plymouth and Essex, where he is currently Director of the Centre for Creative Writing. His books include the anthology of short stories, Ovid Metamorphosed (2000), the poetry collections Oulipoems (2006), Oulipoems 2 (2009) and Shakespeare’s Sonnets (2011), ... 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 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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