:: Maintenant

48 & other poems published 07/05/2013

on the ground, the black hand flapping
the brown hand spread as if to grasp
grasp what?    a paving slab   a street   a sweep
of air    then some cruddy music    and leaf
leaf flattens, is pressed    is what?   is the body
as flat as this as brittle as surrendered   to what?
and some you burn and watch fly   and this
is    what?  an analogy as the mind makes it
of war perhaps    which war? dare we answer? dare
the body be its own dialogue? dare the
long, shall we say? rain beat down on us
and our music    is that the music? that cruddy
music you make in your bones and teeth?

By George Szirtes.

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Maintenant #95 – Ivan Hristov published 08/01/2013

Modernism in Bulgaria contradicted the totalitarian doctrine known as “socialist realism.” Even though some scholars claim that socialist realism began as an avant garde offshoot of modernism, the two approaches conflict. This led to repression against many modernist writers by both extremely left-wing and extremely right-wing regimes. Modernism means “freedom” above all, followed by “individualism.” The first stage in Bulgarian modernism is called “individualism.” Freedom and individualism are the two things totalitarianism hates the most. Modernism was marginalised after the Second World War. During the 1960s, due to the partial liberalisation of the totalitarian regime in Bulgaria, some modernist writers were rehabilitated and interest in their work was revived. But true interest in modernism began at the end of the totalitarian epoch, when new postmodern literature used the foundation of modernism as its stepping stone.

In the 95th of the Maintenant series, SJ Fowler interviews the Bulgarian poet Ivan Hristov.

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Poetry Room published

Then he asked me
how things were with us.
I told him
that our
was more conservative
and more mystical,
and that we don’t
talk much
about our problems.
He was amazed.
I didn’t dare
tell him
that for 45 years
we didn’t have God at all

By Ivan Hristov.

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Maintenant #94 – Pierre Joris published 01/10/2012

My core sense here is to defeat the old chestnut of “inspiration” — a romantic reliance on the muse, whoever she, he or it is meant to be. I tell my students: poetry is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. Thinking on this (& trying to find a way of putting it I haven’t already used, as this is something that comes up again & again) & not finding one immediately, I turn away from the work under hand & pick up a book— I’m writing this on the TGV between Paris and Bordeaux — the “light reading” I picked up in Paris yesterday after getting in from New York, this year’s Philippe Sollers’ “novel” called L’éclaircie, which I started reading into during the past night’s jet-lag insomnia hours, & this is what I immediately come across now, here, on the train: “Mallarmé tells how in the morning Manet would throw himself with fury upon his canvases, ‘as if he had never painted.’ A capital notation: one has never written anything, painted anything, composed anything, the spontaneous act belongs to the pure present, always new, without past.”

In the 94th of the Maintenant series, SJ Fowler interviews the Luxembourger poet Pierre Joris.

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Notes on Solon & other poems published

“this is happening” she said
in the muddle purge
oratory. can
Ned, not I, in
fuse the middle
stand. ground. class.

a container trans-
parent sentences.

the two you. The to
you. The us of
things, the rex of
things no rex.
unqueened anorexia.

By Pierre Joris.

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Maintenant #93 – Charles Simic published 13/05/2012

When I’m writing, I’m as oblivious as a dog digging a hole in the ground with his paws. There may be a bone there or nothing at all, but while I’m doing it… that is all I know. After decades of reading and listening to debates about tradition versus avant-garde, I’m frankly bored. Good poetry has been written in all sorts of ways since the days of Rimbaud as everyone ought to admit. If someone can get away today by writing poems that sound like Byron or Emily Dickinson, poems that one can’t stop reading, let’s not worry about what the disciples of Gertrude Stein will say.

In the 93rd of the Maintenant series, SJ Fowler interviews the Serbian / American poet Charles Simic.

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Ghost Cinema published

And act like sweethearts
On a bare mattress laid out for their use
On a warehouse floor
Under the bright spotlights.

Standing afterwards
With their foreheads touching
As if about to be hung
By a single rope
From the high ceiling,

By Charles Simic.

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Maintenant Croatia published 06/05/2012

Truly revolutionising Croatian poetics since the turn of the century this group of poets represent a generation that has refused the staid political atmosphere of post communist poetry circles, and has forced their nation to expand its scope and poetic vernacular. They have achieved unprecedented success, making Croatia a world recognised powerhouse of contemporary European poetry. Centred around the iconoclastic Poezija magazine Damir Sodan, Sonja Manojlovic, Ivan Herceg, Dorta Jagic and Tomica Bajsic constituted the core of another wonderful night of readings.

Videos from a poetry reading in London that showcased the best of 21st Croatian poetry by SJ Fowler .

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Maintenant #92 – Jeff Hilson published 22/04/2012

I also wonder whether the old-school mainstream hasn’t eventually realised how boring its work has been for the last 40 years and has decided to poach terminologies traditionally associated with the avant-garde. A soon-to-be-published critical work by a well-known mainstream poet and editor claims to be “a radical map of living British poets” (you can google that phrase and find out who it is). It’s a joke! None of the poets examined could be called ‘radical’ in any sense – politically, formally, historically – nor would they, I imagine, think of themselves in this way – but using a word associated with the avant-garde will give this miserable text some much-needed credibility. It’s a small sign of how bad things have got in the mainstream and how desperate they are to be taken seriously.

In the 92nd of the Maintenant series, SJ Fowler interviews the English poet Jeff Hilson.

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rinker published

mike dress as a
love-pup :––––––
woo ––––––––––
woo ––––––––––

doug in a taterb
bag walkin’ ‘n’
eatin’ : ‘m’ eatin
‘n’ walkin see

& they danced
on the friday de
december for th’
buildings of eng

land (smal early
wals of tin (dogs
who settle giant
youths clubs of

kent here is the
sheriff – of – the –
stair (dogs insted
a buried twins

By Jeff Hilson.

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