Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Geoffry Hill's first lecture in his role as Professor of Poetry at Oxford University.
Very interesting, sermon-esque. Here are some quotes I've taken from it, by no means the best of what he said just that which was pithy enough to be quoted! Very much worth listening to, also his voice is wonderfully rich, deep and timberous.

Listen to the lecture here.

"thought is to be made manifest in structure"

"contemporary poetry receives far more encouragement than is good for it"

"the greatest tragedy of the last 60 years has been the extinction of the ontological reader, at least in any public domain which would or could affect the moral aesthetics of the nation, I'm sure they exist in private but they don't find their way into the reviews section of the sunday telegraph or the sunday times"

"what Eliot and we are looking for...(is) significant emotion, emotion which has its life in the poem and not in the history of the poet. The emotion of art is impersonal, the poet cannot reach this impersonality without surrendering himself wholly to the work to be done"

"Blackmur wrote in 1935 and I regard it as one of the great modern/modernist formulations of what poetry is: "the art of poetry is amply distinguished from the manufacture of verse by the animating presence of a fresh idiom. Language so twisted and posed in a form that it not only expresses the matter in hand but adds to the stock of available reality.""

"if the poet suceeds, all the impersonality that Eliot desiderates is there objectified by the strenuosity of the maker's inventiveness"

"If I were to offer anything to the conventional young poet...I would say: don't try to be sincere, don't try to express your innermost feelings, but do try to be inventive"

"the craft of poetry is not a spillage but an ingathering. 'Relevance' and 'accessibility' strike me as words of very slight value...'accessibility' is a perfectly good word if the matter of the discussion concerns supermarket aisles, library stacks or public lavatories but has no proper place in discussion of poetry and poetics"

"poetry of the new millenium is as it is because of what English poetry has been during preceding centuries and a degree of humility when faced with that fact would not come amiss from our latest celebrities"

"english poetry, poetry written in english, cannot be comprehended outside the context of politics, economics and theology in Britain"

"when did it begin, this fantasy that the literary scene of the day is some kind of national treasure, when what it more resembles is a landfill"


James Owens said...

Hill is always provocative, and there is a lot of wisdom in these quotes. I haven't read much of his work for the past several years, though I think his first 3 or 4 books were brilliant. I really should put in more of an effort to catch up! Thank you for the link. I will listen....

Marion McCready said...

yes, provocative much! but oh so worth listening to :)!

Roxana said...

i loved everything i read by him, in fact i wanted to use some of his lines in a video project, but there is always this copyright problem (if you want to send the film to festival screenings etc. :-(

Marion McCready said...

I've not really read much of his work, but so intrigued now to get some and read it properly