Thursday, 22 July 2010
Anthony Caleshu's new book of poems Of Whales: In Print, In Paint, In Sea, In Stars, In Coin, In House, In Margins, is just published by Salt. It's a collection based on Melville's great American novel Moby Dick, using episodes and ideas from the novel and from Melville's sources, and criticism written on Melville, to dream up new poems haunted by seafaring and whaling, by drinking and voyaging in the literary imagination, and by relationships. It's a frankly obsessive book, maybe not quite so much so as Melville's, but completely literary in a witty and sometimes touching way. I read it right through with pleasure the first time and it grows on you, the enjoyment of an idea augmented and thoroughly developed in many different poems. The formal range of the poems is terrific and never fussy, as befits a humane book with a long literary memory. Plymouth is there in the Gin Factory and watery bars of the Barbican, in the night time imagination, alongside Bulkington, Ishmael, Hawthorne, Olson, Owen Chase, Thomas Beale, Starbuck, and all sorts of dodgy Melvillean characters, some of them born yesterday. You can find out more about Anthony Caleshu's books on his Salt page.
Steve Spence's book A Curious Shipwreck has been shortlisted for the Forward 2010 best first poetry collection prize. It's great that Steve's book has been recognized among the best debut poetry collections this year. You can find more information about Steve's work on the Shearsman website here.