What you (may have) missed on 3:AM this week:
Interviewed: The world’s shortest Jim Jefferies interview, courtesy of Graham Rae
Reviewed: Max Dunbar on Louise Wener’s Different for Girls: My True-Life Adventures in Pop; Joseph Ridgwell on Mark SaFranko’s God Bless America; Tom Jenks on Richard Barrett’s Sidings:
Richard Barrett is often associated with experimental/innovative poetics, partly because of the publications in which his work has appeared over the last few years but also because he undoubtedly has those particular shots in his locker. Sidings is the work of a sophisticated intelligence, a writer who is not insular, who is aware of technique but is not ruled by it, who can pick a colour from his palette without being tempted to apply it as a coat of whitewash. The cover of Sidings depicts, apparently from above, a Brutalist tower block: geometric, kaleidoscopic, sliced, mirrored. It suggests a body of work characterised by hard angles and gleaming aluminium edges, but this is a false note. Just as Brutalism, for all its astringency and confrontational aesthetic, was underpinned by a fundamental concern for humanity, so this collection for all its stylistic tricks and tropes, its plurality of reference points and its ventriloquism, is underpinned by an unwavering interest in people. In fact, one could go so far to say that at the core of Sidings is not a white hot experimental fuel rod, rather something older, earthier and less fashionable.
Much of Sidings alludes to the world of work, to what Roethke called “the misery of manila envelopes.” This unashamed embrace of the prosaic, regarded by some as a poetic no-fly zone, is a large source of Sidings‘ strength. Like Frank O’Hara with his “I did this, I did that” poems, Barrett is a poet for whom no detail is too small. Sidings is not the projection of an idealised persona, rather the delineation and diagrammaticisation of an organic, imperfect consciousness.
First posted: Sunday, August 29th, 2010.