January 16, 2005

Back from Suffolk

One of the areas that I am playing with in the opening Text Festival exhibition is the privileging of the book and the canon. To do this I decided to create a canonical bookcase, an alternative canon; not complete or undisputable but something to raise questions, such as what is that? Why does this shelf look so different to every library or bookshop poetry shelf? Where could I get some of these books? Why isn’t such and such on there? In Suffolk over the last few days, visiting cris cheek (and Kirsten Lavers) (collectively Things Not Worth Keeping), he was stunned by his huge and remarkable book collection, fabulous things ranging from an original complete set of LANGUAGE and a massive collection of the innovative British poets of the last 30 years to rare editions to drop your jaw. I was particularly struck by the Tom Raworth and JR Prynne books. Through the recent Carcanet and Bloodaxe collected works of both I thought that I understood the quality of their work. Seeing what they really can do was both an exhilarating discovery and a source of annoyance that the 2 most recent more mainstream publications are such a disservice to their work.

I came back with about 270 books from cris’s collection; sadly I am too slow a reader to make a dent in this fabulous pile before they go on display.


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