David Green

David Green (Books) is the imprint under which I publish booklets of my own poems, when there are sufficient of them. Apart from that, the website has become what it is. I hope you find at least some of it worthwhile.

Friday, 18 August 2017

The Finished 'Unfinished'












There have been a few theories about why Schubert's Symphony no. 8 is 'Unfinished'.

The theory popularized by Jack Buchanan in 1935,

Now I know just why Franz Schubert
Didn't finish his unfinished symphony
He might have written more but the clock struck four
And everything stops for tea

is woefully under-regarded in academic circles these days.

It had been thought that he died, well, he did but not so soon that he couldn't have completed this symphony. It has been suggested that he was unable to overcome technical compositional problems that he set himself in the third and fourth movements whereas I liked the idea that the first two movements were so bloody good that he didn't want to ruin them by adding any more to them, which is possibly the same thing expressed with less pomp.
The theory that has gained most ground in recent years, though, is that he purloined the fourth movement for the more pressing deadline of the ballet, Rosamunde, and the other bit went with it.
So Mario Venzago has taken it upon himself to reconstruct what might have been.
It will be interesting to see how readily this version is taken up by concert programmes.
Nobody seems to mind that Sussmayer finished Mozart's Requiem for him. I'm not sure that anyone has put the last touches to The Art of Fugue for Bach because, quite possibly, he didn't die having just poignantly signed his name in the abortive start of a final theme but that's where he meant to leave it. I was glad that Gorecki Jnr. completed the Symphony no.4 from his father's notebooks so that we could hear what came after the monumental No.3. But I've never troubled much with Elgar's Symphony no.3 that was finished for him because I don't know much about the first two.
So, I thought the Finished 'Unfinished' was an essential acquisition although it might take longer than some of us have got to ever completely accept it as the real thing.
But it hasn't arrived yet so do come back later to find out what it's like.   

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Up the Ladder to the Roof

of St. Mary's Church, Fratton, something I've been intending to do for a few years but never been able to coincide knowing when it's open with it not having rained and so it's closed.

Not quite for everyone. I'm not the best on ladders or with heights and you wouldn't want to be 6ft 4 in the later stages but it's not as challeging as Salisbury Cathedral and you couldn't have a better day than today to do it.
The first picture here is of my house, in context, from a distance.
It doesn't seem many years ago that one wouldn't want to be seen taking a photograph of oneself but now it's considered normal and there's even a word for it.







Friday, 11 August 2017

Intellectual Honesty

Good work in the TLS this week by Barton Swaim. It hardly bears re-iterating here because it was ne'er so well expressed or at least I couldn't have put it any better. One of those things one knew about but didn't realize it was a thing until it was explained quite so well.
It is intellectually dishonest... to hold a view in part because you regard those who hold the opposite view to be silly or off-putting or distracted.
That is notwithstanding the fact that he begins from a position that claims that Donald Trunp is not as bad as he seems but he retrieves himself by identifying my own natural, treasured inclination by asking,
is it wrong to take a minority position on the grounds that so many people can't be right.
 
Barton uses a debate about the relative merits of tennis and golf as an example to extend the effect and shows how one could be persuaded in favour of golf. Tennis is (obviously) agreed as the better sport but one is inclined to sympathize with golf more because the reasons given by others to deride golf are bad.
I recognize immediately how my natural affinity with Labour politics, not always backed up by my vote, is tempered by some bad reasons given by others for supporting them. And, in parallel, because I'd be the last to vote for a party that contains Michael Gove, Boris Johnson and George Osborne, I resent any suggestion that I might and am at pains to point out that my fascination with Jacob Rees-Mogg - and, yes, the joke has probably gone far enough by now - is only in line with Vicky Coren's aside once on Have I got News For You, 'Do you know, I find you strangely attractive'.
But it dangerously extends into artistic judgements when one's admiration of Lou Reed, which is this side idolatry, is almost tempered by the knowledge that when I saw him once, someone else who's opinion is like aversion therapy on me went to see him twice.
And my worship of Sylvia Plath, which is well beyond my estimation of Ted Hughes, is affected by those whose agendas have made her a test case for gender issues. So much so that when once I bought a badge with Sylvia's picture on it, I found I couldn't wear it for fear of being taken for a maniac and so I gave it away.
We should not be so craven in the face of the opinions of others, the various pieties, whether religious, political, artistic or sporting. Barton Swaim questions why it is 'intellectual honesty', reminding me of Ezra Pound crossing out adjectives and adverbs.
It's just honestly, probably. But when I left the atmosphere of campus correctness, where I had at least resisted the accepted taste for John Coltrane, Charlie Parker and Frank Zappa, and entered the completely different world of work, I had held The Human League and much of the electronica of the early 1980's in very low esteem but then found myself working with people who bought such records. I found I changed my mind, whether by osmosis, compulsion or just to be sociable but I'm glad I did. It was just in time for Dare. And they were right and I'd been wrong. 

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

The Writing on the Wall

The poem is now up on the wall in a conference room in the office and very nice it looks, too.

Having been centred rather than aligned left, the point of the acrostic, reading PORTSMOUTH down the side, is made less apparent. It doesn't have a title because it would have been implicit in the poem but it's been given one anyway, though not by me. Thus, as I'm sure others have learnt in the past, if you want to retain complete artistic control over your work, never let it out of your sight.

But it's fine and, familiarity bringing with it some comfort, it seems a better poem than I first thought it was.

It's been here before but if Radio 3 can repeat Proms, I'm sure I can repeat this,



Perhaps it was my fate to be brought here
Or a sequence of chances that lined up,
Returning me back time and time again
To where I was at home as refugee.
So, thirty-five years later, here I am,
Made native by belonging nowhere else,
Otherwise still a stranger to myself
Under the Guildhall clock or by the shore
The gunboats would depart from into mist,
History theirs to make, ours to pass by.
 

Monday, 7 August 2017

Oh, Babe, What Would You Say

I was on the verge of booking the English Touring Opera's Guilio Cesare over the weekend when I noticed it said, 'Part 1'. Oh, I see, you have to go bavck the next night for Part 2 which makes it a bit of a bind, and over fifty quid to see maybe not the best opera company in the country.
A similar arrrangement applies to the Magnetic Fields, playing the 50 Song Memoir album over two nights next month at selected venues. So that's London, impose myself on the kindness of old mates for hospitality and pay for two gigs when really they could do the best bits on one night.
It makes you reconsider how much you need to see these performances and while I'm sure Stephin and Friends will fill their dates out with cosmoploitan types in London, Brighton, Liverpool and such places, I am not so confident that English Touring Opera will be so lucrative in their attempt with Handel opera in Portsmouth. But best of luck to them and apologies for absence.
-
Meanwhile Carson McCullers went down very well, with a little help from a useful introduction that explained it all very well in time-honoured student fashion of making sure you'd assimilated the salient points and not trusting your own reading.
With £30 waiting to be spent on Amazon, it has some reverse psychology effect of making one want to spend such a windfall wisely and not just order Mozart operas for the sake of stacking the shelves or things like DVD's of The Monkees. Thus I looked at various things, like Clarissa Aykroyd's recent recommendation, Benjamin Fondane. Maybe one day but I do have some books stored up, like Ben Pimlott's doorstopper biography of Harold Wilson, which is so far so much fun, described by others at Oxford as 'a trifle pompous', a show-off and a prig alongside several more charitable verdicts but Guess who he used to go and listen to playing the organ in Balliol chapel - Ted Heath.
But however good it is thus far, we haven't met Lorrd Georrge Brown yet so I'm expecting it to go through the gears when we get to him.
--
Today would be a fine diary entry if I kept such a thing. Ruby made sure of the dead cert at Cork,
asserted between last 2, stayed on well, easily
and the Portsmouth Acrostic went up on the wall of Conference Room 1 in the office so tomorrow I will wear my best frock and poet hat to have my picture taken next to it so it can go at the top of the page here. It is a moment of minor celebrity, maybe a bit like Shergar turning up at Fontwell Park, but it's fine and much preferable to wider celebrity. I've already impressed a few of the choicest young ladies of the office with it and if poetry can't do that for you, there's some doubt as to why one would do it at all. 
--
The DVD referred to a while back was The Gospel according to Al Green. Perhaps there was a clue in the title but the blurb did say it was a mixture of his classic 70's soul hits and the gospel hysteria that later took him over. Well, the interview early doors is invaluable about his career in the formative years and, boy, can he play guitar if he feels like it but once we've been treated to Let's Stay Together, he's off on one big Lordy, Lordy excursion, or I expect he is. I've left it there to be returned to until I need a prayer to land me a major gamble.
But let that not diminish the fact that he was the greatest singer to adorn the hit parade and, circa 1975, when I realized that my immediate circle of friends were disappearing a bit too readily into allegiance with long-haired electric guitarists, decibels and posturing machismo, I could see it was the other gang who were buying Tamla Motown records had got it right. It wasn't too late and I adopted Al Green as my saviour as he, in his turn, adopted an earlier, widely admired figure as his. And I've not looked back.
 

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Something Else

Just how careless can one be, moving on from a verse noted down one night and completed the next day in a different rhyme scheme. Well never mind, given time I might think of some artistic justification for it but it doesn't matter. Neither do I know exactly what it means and I'm not worried about that either. There is plenty by Don Paterson and those of that ilk, Michael Donaghy for instance, that I can't explain but like well enough.



Something Else

It’s other than the maverick
that dissents from the orthodox
and other than a three card trick,
a glimpse of a suburban fox

or all the fakes that might conspire
to undermine the uncouth dire.
It’s other than the latest thing,
some aria one can’t quite sing,

it’s not the first thing or the last
that says it’s an iconoclast.
It’s not the voice that you can’t do,
it’s not even Albert Camus,

it’s something else we’ll never know
however far you want to go
because we’d never recognize
each other in each other’s eyes.

--

It can go into the file of poems towards the next booklet and take its chances when the time comes.

I fondly, fondly, imagine that some readers visit here in the hope of news of my frugal poetry career and are doughty enough not to abandon all hope when there is so often so little. Well, the folder that contains the poems for The Perfect Book now has 21 poems in it, which is 23 pages worth in the usual format so before the customary four year cycle is completed and the next title would be due, there's more than the usual dose of 14 poems. It doesn't seem like I've done much but they accrue like dust. Maybe some will miss the cut but the intention is to troll on regardless to produce something almost pamphlet-sized in 2019 rather than the usual mere sliver that represents four years of occasional decadent effort. They looked okay when I read them last weekend but on another day one can be beset with doubt and wonder if they are anything at all. I have wondered whether to enter a pamphlet competition which would save me the trouble of taking it to the printers if successful but such publishers seem to want you to promote the commodity by doing readings, signing copies and making yourself available, all debonair and gracious. I can't see me doing that. 
But today, while walking about, I have been rehearsing the Portsmouth Acrostic in my head so, if need be, I can do it from memory if called upon to recite it once it is installed in a conference room on completion of the office refurbishment. There is to be only one other poem honoured in such a way, in the other conference room, and its author has already read her poem to her immediate colleagues. It always looks a bit as if a poet knows what they're doing if they can do it without the text in front of them and I wouldn't want to appear less than consummate if I were required to do the same. But I flatter myself if I entertain the idea that anybody will really want to hear it.

So, not much, very little of my time is spent writing poems. It is time well not spent if one refrains from writing bad poems and invests rarely, only when it seems the idea is worthwhile. It's not for me to be the judge of that.
But having now surprised myself by having written the novel I thought I'd never write that is the subject of the ironic poem, The Perfect Book, perhaps it will need a sequel, perhaps The Flawed Book, to acknowledge how the first poem was only pertinent to how it was at the time of writing. I'll give it some thought.