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Sean O’Brien’s Fireweed

31 August 2011

My mother asked me about a poem in Sean O’Brien’s most recent collection, November, so I sent her a view of it. It turned out that I’d misunderstood which poem she meant, so I ended up critiquing “Fireweed”, the first poem in the collection, instead. It’s a long time since I’ve done any literary analysis, […]

Another country

7 May 2012

I’ve had the miners’ strike more on my mind since I went to see the Jeremy Deller exhibition at the Hayward Gallery a couple of weeks ago, because the exhibition includes his famous reenactment of The Battle of Orgreave, when police cavalry charged protesting strikers. So when The Guardian published some poems from Jubilee Lines, […]

Remembering Lowell George

11 January 2009

I had a conversation with a friend over the weekend about the Little Feat singer and slide guitarist Lowell George, who died thirty years ago at the age of 34. Some (yes: me included)¬† think that Little Feat¬† were never as interesting or innovative afterwards. The night he died I was working an night shift […]

Poetry’s challenge to language and utilitarianism

8 March 2008

Sean O’Brien has an article in The Guardian’s Review today in which he suggests that poetry is difficult for readers precisely because it is a challenge to the mundane way in which we now expect to use language (‘The facts, Mr Gradgrind…). The difficulty that readers face owes much to the fundamentally prosaic and utilitarian […]