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, 15 December 2017

The Saturday Nap

Apple's Shakira in the first at Cheltenham tomorrow was the original plan after it was well-backed, mainly with the Professor's money, and hosed up as advertised by him here four weeks ago. But now all the opposition has evaporated and one can't back anything at 1/5. The last time I did that it was Hillary Clinton to beat the other one and it just goes to show - the incredible can happen.
He did it to my beetting account and now he's doing it to the USA.
So, Vision des Flos is 1/2 at Hereford so that's no good either. Two more short ones are a Henderson double at Doncaster suggested by the Prof but Paul Nicholls thought a lot of Clan des Obeaux (Cheltenham, 1.55, nap) and, having shown some genuine form this season after getting beat a few times last year, this is where he can be expected to make a big contribution.
The Professor, who is now the tipster in form, takes on the established reputation of the redoutable The New One with the talking horse potential of Melon in the 3.05. 

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Season's Greetings

...appear to be in vogue. So, have some from me. Christmas cards from me are about as rare as signed Philip Larkin books, but don't fetch as much at auction, so don't be offended if you don't get one. I was mortified to receive one from Japan when it was too late to reciprocate but she'll get by on the items of great interest (by simply being British) that she gets in the year.

The year's total for items posted here is roughly up to the usual. I honestly don't know where it all comes from, I dare say much of its the same but thanks for coming anyway. It is gratifying to hear from anybody whose work I've mentioned and they generally come in peace. So, all that remains really are two more Saturday Naps with the Professor suddenly in a rich vein of form and looking like he might outperform me which, quite honestly, this year might not prove to be difficult.
Until taking delivery of some Christmas books, I've plenty going on with Alex Ross's The Rest is Noise, a history of C20th classical music that was recommended a long time ago now. I tend to purloin the best recommendations and make them enthusiasms of my own, like Patrick Hamilton and The Magnetic Fields, and this book belongs in the same category.
Oh, I see, it wasn't so much The Rite of Spring that caused the most consternation when Modernism came, like The Sex Pistols in 1976, to sweep aside a lot of overblown, out-of-control self indulgence. Apparently Schenberg caused the first and most alarming stir. But the book is aimed at a very accessible and useful level, not full of extracts from scores or too much technical musician talk but anecdotal and dealing with personalities. It is a big book but will fly by all too quickly. Thanks for the tip, sir, I should have got on with it sooner.
Similarly, Edgar Allan Poe & the Juke-Box, edited by Alice Quinn, is a captivating read and a wonderful thing to have. 'Uncollected Poems, Drafts and Fragments' by, yes, Elizabeth Bishop, it is very much a poet's poet's book about a poet's poetry. Perhaps not for the 'general reader' but a sine qua non for Bishopfreaks.
The pages of drafts of One Art show a masterpiece gradually coming into being from quite prosaic and unpromising beginnings. We are all grateful when a poem seems to arrive fully-formed and just needs writing down, like a gift from beyond and I'm never sure that poems that need to be worked on too much are ever as good. Sometimes you can spot them and the hard graft and polish almost diminishes them. These drafts, though, show that the finished article is not only worth the effort but comes a long way from where it started. Maybe that's what they mean by 'craft'.
The book also has lots of examples of discarded or unfinished work and is evidence enough of how a top, top poet becomes so by a fine discriminatory instinct, knowing when something isn't going to make the grade. Many are still worth having and many of us would be happy enough to have them but for the best - and Larkin is an obvious other example- the oeuvre might not be very big but there's little difference between the Selected Poems and the Collected. The rest is out-takes.
It is re-assuring, too, to see how she constructs a villanelle, putting the rhyme words in at the end of each line ahead of filling in the rest. No, I don't suppose anybody who believes themselves to be in possession of 'inspiration' or a Romantic gift for profound meaning would approve of the idea but for some of us it can be more like filling in a crossword, like Larkin, knocking out An Arundel Tomb one evening, glass of red to hand, Monica sitting opposite.
Him - Two syllable word, heraldic term.
Monica - Blazon?
Him - Yep, that'll do. Thank you very much.

The Jess Davies Band will be playing the Aurora Cafe Bar in Albert Road, Southsea on Fri 22nd so even if I won't actually be there in person, I'll be there is spirit, or a few of the words, do go and ask her when the record is coming out and place a pre-release order for it. 

So, Happy Christmas.
Apologies for everything.
Keep the Faith.

The rest is horse racing.

   

Monday, 11 December 2017

Best Poem and Best Collection 2017

I still haven't decided who has won these uncoveted awards but I will have done in a few paragraphs time. I have a bottle of Falling Leaf Zinfandel to help and if that doesn't work, nothing will.
The year's best in non-poetry were announced last month with the shortlists because conclusions looked foregone but since then the Portsmouth Choral Union's Belshazzar has come and done Carolyn Sampson's Wigmore recital on the line. You can't miss with Handel but still have to do it with some panache and, with Southern Pro Musica and the soloists as good as ever, I was entirely convinced. Carolyn won't mind - she has the Best CD award anyway and will undoubtedly have far too many prizes to collect for mine to make any difference.
But I'm only playing for time and avoiding the knotty problem of how to decide about the poems.
There were seven poems on the shortlist that qualified through the chancy early rounds of me being aware of them, then reading them and then being impressed enough to put them in the notebook with a view to making the shortlist. There are quite possibly reams of tremendous poems that my limited reading can take account of. Well, not reams, but probably a few more. Excellent work by Clive James, Douglas Dunn, Derek Mahon and Kathryn Gray was memorable but it has come down to three candidates to consider for the Best Poem.
John Burnside's Mistaken for a Unicorn set a high standard early doors and it was getting late in the year before the shortlist blossomed to seven. A Roddy Lumsden book rarely appears without it or something from it shouldering its way into the queue but then the title poem from James Sheard's The Abandoned Settlements was deep, resonant and derelict and insisted on being given the utmost of attention.
They are very different poems - Burnside capturing something sublime sublimely, Lumsden very astutely and inimitably (however hard anybody else wants to try) nailing something more wordly and Sheard somewhere in between. Something has to give, though, and very reluctantly, because I admire the poem devoutly, it's The Abandoned Settlements on account of the phrase 'the utter transformation of our lives', which somehow just has the air of a mindfulness workshop about it but it's a cruel world and I'm heartbroken to see it go.
And then I just wonder if John Burnside amazed me a little bit more than Roddy Lumsden. I couldn't write anything nearly as good as either poem but I might get closer to Work Crush than Mistaken for a Unicorn. So John Burnside it is.
But don't let that be a reason to pile all the last-minute cash onto John for Best Collection. While the two categories are independent of each other and there is no reason why they should both go to the same poet, If it looks like there's a bit of horse trading going on here, perhaps there is. Burnside, a bit like Lumsden, is a prolific poet as well as a brilliant one but such facility makes me suspicious. Has he just struck on a linguistic formula that means he can reel off pages of this stuff that looks good. Eventually one wonders if it all means as much as it looks as if it does. Mistaken for a Unicorn might just be where any legerdemain has kept its trick more deviously hidden than elsewhere, I don't know. The great thing about the best poems is that one doesn't really want everything explained as if for top marks in an essay, one would prefer to enjoy them for their own sake.
Although Work Crush was the only Lumsden poem on the shortlist it was Elba that was first put in the notebook from So Glad I'm Me. So, with two poems noted down, one might say that So Glad I'm Me by Roddy Lumsden has the best claim on Best Collection. I'd rather have two Best Poems, or even three, this year and forego a Best Collection but what can you do. Perhaps Still Life with Feeding Snake is the more profound and genuine achievement but I've gone and done it now and am only left with the feeling that James Sheard was robbed.
That makes Roddy Lumsden the first to be given that haphazard honour twice but Julia Copus did the double with Poem and Collection in 2012. Next year will be the tenth that the Best Poem question has been attempted here (Best Collection seems to have followed the year after) and so, if you can stand the excitement, next year's winners will be included in a celebration of a decade of maundering on like a drifting barge about poetry by putting all the winners together in a bag and see who gets pulled out as the one I really, really liked.

I don't think I could have done it this year without the sharpener of the very acceptable Zinfandel (and heaven knows, do Fetzer still produce such wine and, if so, where can you get it) so I don't know what I'll need to pick between all of the winners.

    

Friday, 8 December 2017

The Saturday Nap

Hello, Prof. You're early. Oh, no, it's me that's late.
Oh, I see, off out again tonight, are we. Friday nights out round here wouldn't be the same without you.
Oh, Christmas, is it. And you had a winner today, didn't you. On the Blind Side. 
What have you got for us tomorrow, then.

-I have chatted about it all week. So no surprise that the nap is Politologue 2.55 Sandown.  A true profile for a professor tip. 

Give a shout out to Highland Reel who dances his last waltz at Sha Tin. 6.00  Sunday morning. A true top class performer and winner of Breeders Cup, King George and Coronation Cup to name a few. 

Cheers, then, Prof. 
-
But, dear, oh, dear, Dear Hayley Turner. In trouble for opening an account while she's still got a licence. I think they'll let her off because she's great. But no wonder she feels 'deeply embarrassed', £160 up from 164 bets, with all those industry insider contacts and actually knowing what it's like to ride a horse. Maybe we don't do so bad after all.

At Aintree, two Nicholls horses at odds on don't multiply up to quite enough and Blaklion is a worthy clear favourite in the Becher Chase but is probably best watched until he has used up all his perfectly reasonable excuses for not winning.
So Sandown is the place to take your spare cash.
Just a Sting (12.05) let me down last time but we'll keep him our side for now because we do believe in him, his trainer and his jockey.
The Novice Chase is the race I'm looking forward to most, siding with Finian's Oscar (1.45) in a classy contest.    
I can see what the Professor means at the prices available but maybe they've priced it up wrong and 11/10 Fox Norton might have been worth having. I don't like getting bogged down in pricewise calculations so will be interested in a non-combatant capacity.
My old mate Doing Fine (3.30) turns up in the last and, having done fine in defeat recently, this could well be his day.
But I think Just a Sting (Sandown, 12.05, nap) has to be the top priority.
--
£2 free bet, Paddy. Really, you overwhelm me. 
I had the finest of fine days out at Ascot recently because the Professor bets with Joe Coral.
Could you not try a bit harder. 

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

A Bench of Bishop Books

This does purport to be a books or poetry website but it isn't always. I do try to say a few words occasionally, though.
The decision about Best Poem of the Year is perhaps as difficult as it ever has been this year with three main contenders all excellent and not knowing how to decide. Since they are quite different, it is important to decide not necessarily on the grounds of what type of poem it is but which is 'best', whatever that means, although it is more likely to be 'favourite' in the final analysis, not that that makes it any easier.
But, at risk of becoming yet narrower in theme, I must report on the latest developments on the reading of Elizabeth Bishop. Of course she was always there, a poet's poet, highly regarded but one doesn't always realize what one is missing until one looks closer. And for me, a glib or superficial commentator sometimes, that needs to be much closer and where possible with the help of secondary sources.
Elizabeth Bishop, Poet of the Periphery is the collection of papers delivered at the first UK conference on the poet, in Newcastle, 1999. I wouldn't always go straight to such academic exegesis but even though there is talk of poems as 'speech acts' that take us into theory and away from the poems, there is much valuable material by way of post-introductory help to be had in it from such wise counsel as Michael Donaghy. Whether or not we should be reading letters, we do if we feel like it, but here, in a footnote, you even get the poet's recipe for chocolate brownies.
So with a further Bishop critique due at Christmas, I've had another look and ordered for myself the uncollected poems, notebooks and fragments (again, going further into a perfectionist poet's work than she would have wanted us to) and her paintings.
I'm surprised how surprised I am at seeing quite how many books are available. I shouldn't be as she is ideal material for those in search of a poet to write about. Sophisticated, not immediately easy to pin down, there are plenty of approaches to the poems to be explored. The only limit is how many times one needs to read roughly the same conclusion arrived at by a different route. But I'll have a few, enough to make the Elizabeth shelf challenge the Thom Gunn shelf for yardage, who is only outdone by Larkin because there's more obvious Larkin material to have.
It is sometimes (and shamefully) possible to think one has gone far enough, there is nothing left of sufficient interest to find out about. That is always likely to be a mistake and one should never think it. Good Heavens, Chineke! were on the radio this week playing music by Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745 – 1799) who was not knowingly under-named but was also 'the black Mozart', just in case. Thanks to them for that.
So it is great to find that even though the Complete Elizabeth might only be about 100 poems, you can spend as long as you like on a short one like The Shampoo and find it chronically worthy of attention. The horizon stretches out ahead of us, gorgeously unattainable.
She avoids bad practice, there is always more to it than can be realized on first reading, is self-deprecating to a fault and undemonstratively brilliant. And thus not quite like nearly every other poet you've ever heard of.  
It is a regular occurence for me to read a novel and know that I could do nothing of the sort, there is no point trying. That happens less often with poetry. So whereas Elizabeth Bishop is a consummate model for any poet in search of such a thing it would be unwise to look at her too soon and when they do, they should do so in trepidation. In the same way that Brahms destroyed so much work because he didn't think it compared with Beethoven, it might be too tempting not to be a poet at all.


Friday, 1 December 2017

The Saturday Nap

Willoughby Court was to be the nap for tomorrow until the Professor pointed out that its race was today. And it was a good job he did or else I wouldn't have been on.
It was a typical professorial bet, taking on an odds on favourite and I never wanted to take one on as much as Yanworth, whose big reputation is diminishing, and always would have done with Willoughby Court, who continues to grow in stature.
So perhaps we have looked into the abyss and just managed to turn the corner before giving back all of the profit I once had for 2017. And after a day at Ascot that will live long in the memory, we can look forward with some optimism rather than in fear and trembling, the naps now somehow showing a plus to a level stake and the chess rating at Chess24, where I am named after the star 1980's chaser, Border Incident, booming back well up into the 1800's after some deft and astute play this week.

American (Newbury, 3.00) goes straight from novice company last season to the race we will always know as the Hennessey. I could hardly have been more impressed with what I saw of him last season and this might not be the most competitive Hennessey Gold Cup. It's a big move to go straight to such a race but if he's a Cheltenham Gold Cup horse in the making then 6/1 tomorrow might one day look like a giveaway.
Paddy Power are offering money back on all losing bets if he or the Irish horse, the top two in the market, win which suggests they are happy to field against it but that's a loss leader, worked out by a machine rather than a horse person, and shouldn't put us off.
Shorter priced horses elsewhere are for the less courageous or can be strung together in multiples and one has to like Kalashnikov (Doncaster 12.05), Whiskey in the Jar (Bangor 2.05) and Air Horse One (Newbury 1.50) and one can't bet against Black Corton (Newbury 12.45) while it keeps on winning but I'm well aware that as soon as I try to get on the bandwagon, it will falter so we have to leave it out.
It's up to you this week whether you want to give it a go in the big one with American or make your way more steadily to a less ambitious profit. I'll go with Whiskey in the Jar (nap) and with Redemption Song in the second at Doncaster, look for two more pop records to make up a little yankee. I prefer them to be records I like so I'm off to a good start. (Later - there aren't any).
-
The Prof's out on a spree this evening. His life is so much more glamorous than mine. But he has been on the wire with the precarious opinion that it might be time to catch Charli Parcs ( Newbury 2.25) right, and so it might but I'll believe it when I see it. Best of luck, Prof. Have a good time. 


Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Symborska at PPS

Anyone in the Portsmouth area with an interest in poetry is always welcome, first and third Wednesdays of the month, at Portsmouth Poetry Society (see the link over there  >>>) but especially next Weds when the subject is the poetry of Wislawa Symborska, introduced by me.
I have luckily just realized that is next Weds and not tomorrow which is some indication of my current level of distraction but it is not the dreamy distraction of the other-worldly Romantic poet, it is the ragged anxiety of someone adrift and losing their grip, which is less pretty. The world is too much with us.
On this occasion the long-suffering members of PPS will be excused my usual introductory essay and I'll keep it down to a minimum of remarks and then we can look at the poems, but I will say,

Wislawa Symborska (1923-2012) was perhaps not one of the best-known Nobel Prize winners when she was awarded the Literature prize in 1996, certainly not as famous as Bob Dylan. That would have been when I first heard of her and something prompted me to get View with a Grain of Sand, Selected Poems.
I liked it immediately for its 'sideways view' of the human condition, its gentle perception of absurdities and sometimes surreal look at ordinary life. Unless one is fluent in Polish, one can only appreciate her meaning in translation and can't access the 'poetry' itself but even without that she is very worthy of our attention.
Having been a member of 'the party', she finally left it in 1966 and associated with dissident elements.

And then, if nobody else has brought the poem, Museum, to read, we'll start with that.