Friday, 23 December 2011


We spent a few hours in Torino as part of a holiday. It's more interesting than I'd expected. I found this old bookshop ("Gilibert "?) in an shopping mall which once hosted the Ministry of Finance. Nietzsche lived there for a while. The entrance sign - "Nuovo Romano" - refers to the cinema that's still running.

I took several books to read - "Notes for Lighting a Fire" (Gerry Cambridge), "I Sing the Sonnet" (Duncan Gillies MacLaurin), "Taking Account" by Peter Gilmour, "Egg Printing Explained" (Katy Evans-Bush) and "Close Calls with Nonsense" (Stephen Burt). Connections grew between these as I read them. MacLaurin's sonnets contrasted with Evans-Bush's; Gilmour's Poet/Persona interaction contrasted with the self-construction described by Burt; Burt's description of Tranter helped me when reading Evans-Bush; Cambridge's attention to natural detail made me wonder about the nature of close scrutiny as I peered down from the plane and saw the Mole Antonelliana.

I enjoyed Burt's book the most. It was written "for people who read the half-column poems in glossy magazines and ask, 'Is that all there is?'". It comprises reprints of articles and extended reviews about young US poets, non-US poets, famous US poets and the Ellipticals. They show people like me new routes into poems without sounding too preachy, pointing out the "flaws" I see (e.g. "all [Les Murray's] books include clumsiness and redundancy, masses of lines it's hard to take seriously") while also showing some strengths I'm blind to. A chapter about Wilbur follows one on Ashbery. Armantrout and Gunn each have a chapter.

The non-politician Italian government survived a confidence vote while we were skiing. Pavel and Kim Jong-il died. Nothing much changes in the place we've been skiing in for a few years - the same people behind the supermarket counters, the same barber. The Italians have more types of Panetone than can currently be found in England. Zuppa Inglese ("English soup") is trifle.

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