EDITORIAL - Ken Clay
NOS AMIS FIDÈLES – S. Kadison
HARRY KEMP: THE TRAMP POET – Jim Burns
HAIKU – Alexis Lykiard
IVAN THE FOOL – Maia Nikitina
FREEDOM FIGHTER – Ken Champion
SCAN RESULTS – Jeff Bell
NEWTON HEATH – Tom Kilcourse
I, DoLE – Tanner
TOM McGRATH – Fred Whitehead
PHILOSOPHERS’ NOSES – Ron Horsefield
INLAND BEACH HUT (IV) David Birtwistle
OIKUS – David Birtwistle
CREATION – Tanner
THE FUNERAL – John Lee
SIR CYRIL BRAUN-HALE – Tom Kilcourse
CONFUSION Nigel Ford
OIKU – David Birtwistle
THE SOSSIGER Guillaume Portes
THE SPHINXTER – Chris Carr
McCARTHY – Jim Burns
NATIVE DISCOURSE – Tanner
RANDOMLY SELECTED – Amir Darwish
LIFE AND ART
“Would you go on holiday with this bloke?” is probably not a question raised at a meeting of the Booker judges; but maybe it should be. Tortured genius does have its drawbacks. The actor Patrick Magee, out for a walk in the park with Beckett, declared “What a marvellous day Sam! Sun shining, birds singing. Makes you glad to be alive doesn’t it?” “Hmmm..” replied Sam, “I don’t think I’d go that far”.
This issue touches on the bohemian fringes – blokes you would like to go on holiday with. The Pope of US prole lit, Fred Whitehead, reviews a book on the poet Tom McGrath. Tom made a big impression on Fred’s wife. Jim Burns resurrects the American tramp poet Harry Kemp, and a Preston deadbeat, McCarthy. Jim and Fred say more about their subject’s personality than the verse – the life rather than the art, or rather the life as the art. Kemp wrote acres of doggerel, now justly neglected, and is remembered for his account of bumming round USA Tramping on Life. His last years were spent in a dune shack on the beach at Provincetown. Strangely Dave Birtwistle aspires to the same condition; his fourth episode of Inland Beach Hut is in this issue. Yes, bohemians, but not the fancy aesthetes of the Left bank or the Café Royal – these are oddball oik bohemians, or as Jim puts it - hobohemians. There’s probably one living near you.
At the opposite end of the spectrum would be T.S. Eliot. Indistinguishable from the bowler hatted city gent, one of the crowd that daily flowed over London Bridge – tight-arsed, religious, depressed, prickly – no, you wouldn’t want to go on holiday with him. Alan Bennett, strolling round Bloomsbury with his mum, bumped into TS and had a chat. Later, moving on, he asked mum what she thought of our greatest living poet. Mum, deeply moved, could only reply “Oooo what a lovely overcoat!”
Yes, a night in the pub with Kemp might sound congenial but I guess you’d soon tire of Harry’s endless, top note recitation and creep off to the bogs with a copy of The Wasteland.
Speaking of poets, two newcomers in this issue are Jeff Bell, a pop singer from Newcastle, and Amir Darwish, a Syrian now living in Middlesborough (a slight improvement one imagines). Tanner, as usual, goes beyond Bohemia into a dark region of nihilism (Liverpool) where even hobohemians would look effete. Tom Kilcourse and John Lee remind us of the oik paradise which was 50s Manchester.
But who’s this cheeky sod Guillaume Portes (a pseudonym quite opaque to my rudimentary French)? Reading through his contribution again, too late to remove it, I find his satire a bit near the knuckle. Still, if old TS had had a Composer and a Sossiger The Criterion would have kept going without the need to go waving his begging bowl under the nose of the less than enthusiastic Lady Rothermere. Harry Kemp, I’m sure, would have got more out that stingy old trout.
Ken Clay April 2013