The best book I’ve ever read about poetry is a novel: The Anthologist, by Nicholson Baker. Baker’s narrator, Paul Chowder, dreams of an anthology made up only of the best single lines in poems; or even the best individual words. When he gets to Walter Raleigh’s ‘Give me my scallop-shell of quiet’, he stares into the ‘rippling depths’ of the line, and homes in on that final word – quiet – as the reason the poem succeeds, as the focal point for his response of love and amazement.
An anthology, or a blog, made up of single words might be a tough sell. But like Chowder, I want to hold the poems I enjoy – both classic and contemporary – up to the light, turn them around a bit, and see what seems to be going on inside. I want to engage with the poem on its own terms, and see what follows.
I’ll be posting the texts of poems to illustrate the points I want to make about them – if you are the author or rights-holder of a work on this site and you would like me to take it down, please get in contact on richardtobrien at gmail dot com.
My name is Richard O’Brien, I’m a British poet and performer, and if you’d like more information on my own work you can find it here.
About the art
The scallop logo above, and the title design, are both the work of Emma Wright: illustrator, giftmaker, and founder of The Emma Press. Emma’s books, cards and accessories can be bought online, or every Friday from mid-June onwards, from a market stall in London’s Lower Marsh.