Prac Crit

Edition Six

March 2016 - featuring poems and responses by:

Karen Solie

“There are also a few things I couldn’t resist. The River Meles, which ran by Smyrna, Homer’s birthplace, was named for its ‘black water,’ and of course Blackwater is a private American military training and consulting company.”

Stephen Burt

“A work of art that does nothing else directly helpful to you can say there are ways of living and ways of seeing the world that you didn’t imagine were there before... Lyric modes can help people by offering new models for potential selves.”

Luke Kennard

“If you’re just mocking the very idea of anything making sense and saying there are no answers, that’s actually stupidly easy to do, isn’t it? Admitting that you know nothing is the ultimate wisdom but it’s also the ultimate ignorance.”
Deep Note

Peter Robinson

“It turned out, as my poem does its best to catch in a compact and evocative way, that Nadja had been on holiday to Morocco and, while camping in the desert, had awoken to find someone attempting to strangle her. Another coincidence there...”

This issue sees Prac Crit moving to a three-feature format, with a Deep Note provided by the poet-critic Peter Robinson. Following on from his most recent collection, The Draft Will – which features autobiographical prose, and in which he, without arrogance, turns a clear critical eye on his own writing – Robinson writes about verse composition, war, and what the ‘lyrical subject’ (the ‘I’) owes, in its writing about others, to others. Our three feature poets, Karen Solie, Stephen Burt and Luke Kennard, are also concerned with ethics and identity. Solie acknowledges the humane and informed anger, the impatience with political wrongs, which haunts the fine movements of her verse; Cal Revely-Calder’s essay on ‘Via’ reveals the forms of social critique available to her sophisticated and unreductive style. Sarah Howe’s interview with Burt, and Alison Winch’s reading of ‘Fairy Story’, traverse the poetics of a person of two genders; I find myself wondering if Burt – one of the world’s leading poetry critics, as well as a gifted poet – is able to appreciate, and help us to appreciate, verse written by so many different kinds of people, to step outside the usual tribal givens, precisely because he conceives of the self as a shifting and fluid space where alternative desires untyrannically collide. And Luke Kennard’s conversation with Richard O’Brien is remarkable, among other things, for its candidness concerning his conversion to the Greek Orthodox faith. He is known as an ironic, playful poet – a massively influential, and innovatory one – but we see here, as my co-editor Dai George put it to me, the interface in his work (and discussion of it) between that irony, and an abiding sincerity; the care, the precision, which Charlotte Geater’s essay identifies alongside his perennial inventiveness.

Vidyan Ravinthiran