Sunday, January 10, 2010

Toibin on Gunn

The New York Review of Books has an article in the January 14 issue, available in print or to subscribers of the electronic edition, by Colm Toibin on a new selection of Thom Gunn's poetry and includes a review of essays on Gunn's poetry as well as a volume of selected poems of Fulke Grenville edited with an introduction by Gunn. The heart of the review of Toibin's discussion of Gunn as a man and a poet, and well worth reading.


Alan said...

I love Thom Gunn and I was glad to see the tribute in the NYR. Also, the excerpt from the J-Car (hope I got the title right), a favorite poem.

Tim said...

Thanks for the tip, Terry. It's taken me a while to get to my local library and, once there, to find a copy of this no longer current issue. Perhaps because I was reading quickly, under less than optimal conditions, and fairly familiar with Gunn already, I found little new or even particularly interesting in Tóibín's review. Please say more, any of Tóibín's defenders. (I did, however, learn that Gunn had edited a small edition of Ezra Pound's poetry, and I'm quite eager to have a look at that.)

Similarly unavailable to the casual web browser is this poem by Henri Cole, which I copy here. I think we might want to read a book of his someday. It's interesting how increasingly gender-specific it becomes, though the illusion of sexual connection remains sadly common to all.


 Do not show how jealous you are. Do not
 show how much you care. Do no think the bunch
 of flowers in his hand connects the hand to you.
 Do not close your eyes and kiss the funny
 lips. Do not twist your torso, touching yourself
 like a monkey. Do not put your mouth
 on the filthy place that changes everything.
 Do not utter the monosyllable twice that is
 the signature of dogdom. Do not, afterward,
 appear mangy with old breath, scrutinizing
 every hole. And do not think—touching his hair,
 licking, sucking and being sucked in the same
 instant, no longer lonely—that you
 are two animals perfect as one.