Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Hidden Bookshops and their Treasures

I love exploring second hand bookshops.  They offer not just a fantastic range of books which are largely are out of print, but occasionally a glimpse of marginalia scribbled by an enthusiastic reader, the occasional lost postcard used as a bookmark or simply the name of a previous owner circa 1916 or earlier.  As someone with a reasonable imagination, pictures form in my mind quite quickly.

While visiting Oxburgh Hall in Norfolk last year, I encountered a little shop selling second hand books to raise a few funds for the National Trust.  Paying a small sum for a copy of:  Poetry and Appreciation by A. F. Scott (published in 1952), I remain intrigued that something so small and plain holds such a treasure of explanation to many poems and their techniques.

A tip here for example, on lyrical poetry:

'The total meaning of a poem consists of thought, feeling, attitude and intention.  It is conveyed by the words and their arrangement.  The rhythm produced welds the poem together and gives it a significance beyond any prose rendering.  It is only by a close scrutiny of all the qualities of the words (meaning, sound, associations), and also of the ordering of the rhythm, that the poem can be understood and in its value estimated.

Remember that you must judge the poet in accordance with what he is trying to do.  He may do anything he pleases, provided he can do it.'

I trust critics of Michael Sullivan, the first Poet Laureate in Plymouth will think about this before they criticise any further.  They reacted unprofessionally, to a letter sent to The Herald from a range of artists and writers in the Plymouth area who defended the Poet Laureate, commending him for his hard and unpaid work to promote literature in Plymouth.  The insults (mainly from academics and sycophants associated with them), still seem to flow.  They have pretty much started a death knell on Plymouth being taken seriously as a cultural and literary venue.  They have also quashed enthusiasm for many local writers to meet and discuss their work for fear of continued trouble and ridicule.  Some very big ego's have gone too far.

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