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The Word Pavilion
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Paperback (220 pages)
(Pub. May 2001)
Ah, Thomas Chatterton, I hear
They cut you short,
Those tittering, merry English,
Their phrasing sold, imagination bought.
from 'The Glummonging'
The Word Pavilion is a dazzling
construction: two-tiered, each tier divided into sections which, while they harmonise with one another, constitute structures in them-selves. To a selection of 110 poems from his eight earlier books, Middleton adds the new collection.
The poems have no programme, but their lines, straight or zigzag, crossed or spiral, are connected in the first poem, 'Children's Corner', and again in the penultimate one, with its jocose
intimations of death. Among recurrent motifs are birds, directly in 'Karin's Parakeet', or
allusively in the poem spoken by secretly avian Byzantine soldiers revisiting their fort in the here and now. The humble artist - as demiurge in distress - also figures in a number of poems.
The Word Pavilion is a journey, now exuberant, now straggling, into the finite, on the way to
boundlessness, now fast, now slow, and it ends ('Envoi') at the broken apple tree where a flycatcher has his haunt.
Praise for Christopher Middleton 'a poet with a disconcerting knack of making it new in almost every poem'
John Lucas, New Statesman 'His work is at once rich and sparse, elegantly economic in its subtle shifts from discrete object to discrete object, yet, by contrast with mainstream English realism, striking for the boldness and brio of its imaginings.'
Terry Eagleton, Stand 'Metrically inventive and various, these poems are remarkably alive to "the unknown thing beside us", they listen for "the due sound", and, as if watching birds, register "the timed flight of words". A motto for reading Middleton's work might be: purify the source, then trust to luck.'
Denis Donoghue, London Review of Books 'Middleton is amongst the most consistently inventive, original, and audacious of the so-called 'experimental' or 'innovative' poets of these past twenty-five years.'
August Kleinzahler, Threepenny Review 'The poet's ancestry, his Englishness, is relegated without denial. But the movement, whether it is generated in America, Provence or Cappadocia, is always of encounter...if an eroticism, with the inner and the outer, a profound in-touchness with the multiplicities of existence... a mark of all important poets'
Tom Lowenstein 'Poems, translations, essays - Christopher Middletonâs are among the most visited books on my shelves; always dependable for re-exciting the possibilities of language.'
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