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Revolutionary Sonnets and Other Poems
Edited by Kevin Jackson
Categories: 20th Century
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Paperback (130 pages)
(Pub. Nov 2002)
Sick of the sycophantic, singing, sick
Of every afternoon's compulsory games,
Sick of the little cliques of country names,
He let the inner timebomb start to tick,
Beating out number. As arithmetic
The plot took shape - not from divided aims
But short division only. Then, in flames,
He read: 'That flower is not for you to pick.'
Therefore he picked it. All things thawed to action,
Sound, colour. A shrill electric bell
Summoned the guard. He gathered up his faction,
Posied on the brink, though, and created hell.
Light shimmered in miraculous refraction
As, like a bloody thunderbolt, he fell.
from Five Revolutionary Sonnets (1966)
Redesigned and reissued in 2017 to celebrate the 'Burgess Centenary' - 100 years of Anthony Burgess
Revolutionary Sonnets and Other Poems captures the full range and achievement of Anthony Burgess's poetry and verse. It is as daring, original and inventive as the name suggests. The work explores themes of violence and love, pretensions and emotion, sex and war and is both sobering, and hysterically funny.
The author of major novels, essays and reviews, the lecturer whose dazzling take on T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land changed our reading of the poem, is - like Eliot himself - a prosodic genius and a musical aficionado. Here are extracts from Burgess’s translations of the librettos of Carmen, Oberon and others; of verse dramas including Cyrano de Bergerac, Oedipus the King, Chatsky; and his original musicals Trotsky’s in New York!, Mozart and the Wolf Gang and A Clockwork Orange: A Play with Music among others. Here too are his wonderful translations of the Roman dialect poet Giuseppe Belli, extracts from his verse epic Moses, the complete poems of F. X. Enderby, occasional poems for Vladimir Nabokov and Ogden Nash... And we encounter the poems of young John Burgess Wilson, from the Manchester student journal The Serpent. Add to this the autobiographical poem ‘The Sword’, his New York Times verses about the Apollo II moon landing, a verse fragment from his abandoned novel It is the Miller’s Daughter - his fans and new readers will be left with a sense of the scale, wit and accomplishment of one of the great creative originals of the twentieth century.
Praise for Anthony Burgess 'This will doubtless be the definitive volume of Burgess's poetry for some time'
Rob Spence, Shiny New Books
'In scale and personality there is plenty of Burgess here: the philosophical musing, the encyclopedic obscurity, the wilful and occasionally jagged use of language... The reader will gain no particularly new insight into the feelings of the writer, but they will find the ideas which drove much of his fiction distilled, distorted and put to play... his Collected Poems demonstrate to the reader that poetry, with its linguistic freedom and its inherent allusiveness, was always at the heart of his output'
Simon Rennie, Times Literary Supplement
'Reading Burgess is pleasant, suggestive and fun.'
Rafa Latorre, El Mundo
'Reading the entertaining collection is like popping into a pub to spend an hour with an erudite, garrulous polymath. When you resurface, blinking towards the light, you look at things a little differently.'
N. J. McGarrigle, The Irish Times
'Offering the wisdom, sense of discovery and thrill of a dozen fine novels, can be read as a practical handbook of reading, writing and reviewing, as a compendium of shrewd maxims and epigrammatic wit, and as a defence of the business of writing alongside a gently ironic lament to a writer's plight in the age of mass media and marketing. For those with a deeper interest in Burgess's bountiful output, it is also a vital source for his theories of literature and language, and how these animate his work.'
James Hopkin, NewStatesman
'One of the things that The Ink Trade shows is that Burgess, whose main fault as a reviewer was excessive compassion for his fellow authors, can still serve as a model for beginners and old hacks alike.'
Kevin Jackson, Literary Review
'A commitment to the value of writing and literature comes across with vigour and rigour in "The Ink Trade".'
Sean Sheehan, The Prisma
'The writings cover a range of subjects, including Metropolis, Fritz Lang's classic 1927 film, and fellow writers Ernest Hemingway and JB Priestley. They also include an unpublished 1991 lecture on censorship.... The essays span Burgess's journalistic career, including the Yorkshire Post, from which he was sacked after reviewing one of his own books - Inside Mister Enderby... The review, dated 1963, is included in The Ink Trade.'
Dalya Alberge, The Guardian
'Carr has achieved a heroic feat in the editing of this book. From the vast mountain of Burgess' non-fiction writing he has curated a selection that is intensely readable, pleasantly eclectic, and balances the published and the unpublished in such a way that those who have read all of Burgess' previous collections will enjoy this book as much as the newcomer.'
Joe Darlington, The Manchester Review of Books
'Language is definitely of top concern in these articles. He believed that language and wordplay should be of top concern to anyone... Burgess tried to adopt the role of valiant, though uncompromising, protector and defender of great literature.'
Blair James, The Manchester Review of Books
A 'Book to Look Out For in 2018' in Herald Scotland
Praise for Kevin Jackson 'This is the rare kind of book that you get fed up of quoting (there is so much) and simply end up buying for people. Carcanet should certainly be congratulated for publishing such a treasure trove and Jackson ordered by higher powers to keep producing books like it.'
Mark Thwaite, ReadySteadyBook.com 'A cabinet of curiosities in which every neatly lettered drawer reveals, reflected in a tiny mirror, the talking head of the prodigiously informed Kevin Jackson (or his smirking doppleganger, Dr Hannibal Lecter). Skeletal, perfectly formed lecturettes forge a secret biography of the author's obsessions: Blake, Dante, Freud. A mad Arcimboldo project with the answer to everything. Here is the antidote to all previous stocking-filling miscellanies. Buy one for all your friends and enemies. And welcome to the labyrinth.'
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