Saturday, March 31, 2018

New CR Newsletter out for April

Hello readers, our April newsletter has now gone out.  This month we have our usual suite of 20 fresh, original reviews and interviews  (including an interview with The Lucky Galah’s Tracy Sorensen - a first novel which I predict will win a lot of awards in the year to come (you heard it here first - my predictions are rarely wrong :-), 2 fabulous giveaways, and a huge round-out of literary news.  The newsletter should be in your inbox now, but if you haven’t received it (or you aren’t a subscriber), you can grab a copy from our archive here:
http://www.compulsivereader.com/sendpress/email/?sid=MA&eid=MTM0MDE

To subscribe, visit compulsivereader.com and sign up - it’s free and we send only one email a month.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

CR Newsletter for March

Our March Compulsive Reader Newsletter has now been fully dispatched.  This month’s issue contains a bunch of new reviews including wunderkind Gerry Orz’s book Lucky or Not Here I Come, Carolyn Taylor’s Loose Ends, Lisa Preston’s The Measure of the Moon, and many more, as well as interviews with Alan Alda (yes, the Alan Alda), and Idelle Kursman, and of course a new book giveaway, news roundup and much more.  It should be in your inbox  now, but if you’ve not got it, check it out here:
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Thursday, February 1, 2018

Compulsive Reader Newsletter for Feb

The February Compulsive Reader newsletter has now gone out.  As always the newsletter has 10 fresh links to reviews and author interviews including an exclusive, in-depth chat with the amazing Kaz Cooke, reviews of the poetry books Glasshouses by Stuart Barnes and Appalachian Fall by Jennifer Maiden (which I’ll be launching in Newcastle on the 13th of Feb at Maclean’s Books - you’re invited to join us - it’s free and wine and cheese provided), great new fiction like Eye of the Moon by Ivan Obolensky, as well as a round-up of literary news around the globe, another great book giveaway, and more.  If you’re a subscriber, it should already be in your in-box (or check your spam folder and then white list me!).  Or you can grab a copy here: http://www.compulsivereader.com/sendpress/email/?sid=MA&eid=MTMyNjc

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Monday, January 1, 2018

Compulsive Reader Newsletter for January

Hello readers and happy new year!  The January Compulsive Reader Newsletter has now been fully delivered and contains the usual 10 fresh pieces including an overview of the Wollongong Writers Festival, Earthly Remains by Donna Leon, These Wild Houses by Omar Sakr, A Jarful of Moonlight by Nazanin Mirsadeghi, and lots more, as well as a great new giveaway (we had a surprise extra give-away last month and that may happen again sometime...), and the round-up of literary news, prizes and events.
If you haven’t received your copy, you can check it out in the public archive here: Compulsive Reader Jan Newsletter

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

CR Newsletter for Dec is out

The Compulsive Reader Newsletter for December has now been fully distributed.  We’ve got 10 new reviews including Lynette Washington’s criticalAppalachian Fall by Jennifer Maidenly acclaimed Plane Tree Drive, 81 Migrations by W.K. Buckley, a piece on on Faber’s Sarah Menary, an interview with Lex Hirst, a great new giveaway for Appalachian Fall by Jennifer Maiden.
If for some reason you didn’t get one, just grab a copy here: http://www.compulsivereader.com/send/622615158db1e1d/

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Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Frank O’Hara’s Personal Poem

Following is my third ModPo, essay, written on Frank O’Hara’s “Personal Poem” from his 1964 book Lunch Poems.  The full text of the poem, which is rather wonderful, can be found here: https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/personal-poem

Frank O’Hara’s New York City is an absolute realm, an “urban world of fantasy” as Ashbery wrote in his introduction to O’Hara’s Collected Poems. Though “Personal Poem” seems spontaneous, the verisimilitude is constructed, pulling the reader into an imaginary present that feels real. There is serendipity here, as if the present tense could be continually refreshed through the artful innocence of the storyteller’s narrative. The poem’s title references O’Hara’s literary genre “Personism”, which imagines a conversation between two people, with an identifiable “I do this I do that” structure to mirror physical progression. The speaker invites the reader to walk with him during lunchtime in midtown Manhattan around 53rd Street, as referenced by The House of Seagrams. The “luminous humidity” evokes summer. Google Maps couldn’t give us a clearer sense of this world as we walk past buildings under construction and into Moriarty’s where the speaker is meeting LeRoi Jones (later Amiri Baraka) for lunch. The city is vividly evoked through action rather than imagery: “I get to Moriarty's”, “I shake hands with LeRoi…and go back to work”.

Despite O’Hara’s claims that Personism doesn’t use literary techniques, many are at work here. The ‘names’ O’Hara drops through the poem are carefully chosen. The abstract expressionist painter Mike Kanemitsu’s coin becomes a charm for the poem, functioning as synecdoche for the abstract expressionist artworld that anchors the speaker “in New York against coercion” (coupled with a broken travel bag). The silver construction hats also function as synecdoche, representing a working life that the speaker is both part of and free from as a successful poet in New York: “we don’t want to be in the poets’ walk in/San Francisco even we just want to be rich/and walk on girders in our silver hats”.

The meeting with the poet LeRoi Jones (later Amiri Baraka) is pivotal. Just stating the name LeRoi brings in an activist energy that speaks of Jazz and black rights, further enhanced by the reference to the clubbing of Miles Davis. Though the two meet in friendship and a literary congruence that feels luxurious, there is also a reminder here of O’Hara’s privilege and the sad political reality that separates the friends. O’Hara doesn’t have to fear clubbing by cops, while Baraka, like Davis, was beaten by cops a few years after this poem was published.

The rhythm creates a circular narrative designed to feel colloquial, with a carefully constructed rolling pace through the inclusion of only two pauses – one stanza break (a red light crossing pause?), and a single comma in the second stanza.There is no other punctuation. The poem starts with “Now” and ends with “so”, a circular progression that loops back to the start, the action ending abruptly but not conclusively.The minimal punctuation combines with enjambment (“never brought me/much luck”) to create a breathless sense of fast walking, with lots of conjunctions (and, but, and so) to keep the poem in motion as it swirls past a constructed city, the politics of race and class, while touching on the nature of fame, death and immortality, working naturally from the personal to the universal in a way that feels like a recount but also reminds the reader, metapoetically, that they are the one person in eight million thinking of O'Hara.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

CR News is out for November

Hello readers, I’m pleased to report that all issues of Compulsive Reader newsletter have been marked as “delivered”.  You should have your copy now.  If for some reason it got trapped in spamville, you can grab a copy in the archive here: Compulsive Reader News

This month we’ve got 10 great new books featured including Shriek by Davide A. Cotton, Broken Branches by M Jonathan Lee, The Last Days of Jeanne D’Arc by Ali Alizadeh, Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend (and check out my interview with Jessica at Compulsive Reader Talks), interviews with Jane Owen, Monica Jephcott Thomas, Daniel Findlay, Pip Harry, and lots more, plus a roundup of the literary news, another great giveaway and plenty more. If you aren’t a subscriber, go now to http://www.compulsivereader.com and sign up for free (upper right hand corner).