A rare excursion into limerick

How pleasant to feel slightly jaded
while joggers round Queen Square paraded,
I don't give a fart
for the state of my heart:
my aorta's already degraded.

Tom Phillips 2012

Survey - The Great War Centenary

In anticipation of the Centennial of the First World War (1914-1918), the World Heritage Tourism Research Network (WHTRN), an independent academic research group, is implementing an international survey project to learn more about present day reflections, views and perspectives regarding the First World War. It should take approximately 15 minutes to complete. The survey is available in English, French and Dutch. To take the survey, please visit this link.

We sincerely thank you for your participation. Please forward this invitation to your professional and academic networks, as well as to your colleagues and friends.


'The Slumber Party' at Hickory Hill

The department will present three performances of “The Slumber Party” on stage at its Hickory Hill Community Center, located at 3000 Belt Boulevard. The performances will take place at 7 p.m. on Feb. 28, Feb. 29 and March 1, and a reception will follow the opening show.
     The play, written by E. Claudette Freeman, is the story of five friends. As children they experienced first loves, heart

Book review

 A Manner of Utterance, ed. Ian Brinton (Exeter: Shearsman, 2009)

No living poet causes quite such a partisan commotion as J. H. Prynne. For some, understanding or at least grappling with his arcane, multivalent, multi-vocal poetry has become a sort of litmus test of avant-gardism: you either ‘get it’ or you don’t – and if you don’t, well, stuff you. For others, the Cambridge don whose poetic beginnings lie adjacent to Edward Dorn, Charles Olson and the Black Mountain School has done little but publish gibberish and bamboozle a readership made gullible by an hysterical psychological weakness for the ‘different’ and ‘new’. On the one hand, Prynne is the reluctant figurehead of a poetic experimentalism which was effectively banished to the margins by Andrew Motion and Blake Morrison’s 1982 convention-defining anthology The Penguin Book of Contemporary British Poetry (which ostentatiously ignored the ‘Cambridge School’ and other leftfield strands into which and from which Prynne’s poetry feeds). On the other, he’s an over-intellectualising con artist who’s probably best left in the woods while the Carol Ann Duffys and Don Patersons of this world get on with writing poetry the public can readily understand.
The truth, of course, is that Prynne is none of these things. Certainly, he is donnish (if donnish means having an active knowledge of an astonishing spectrum of poetry) and, certainly, he writes in a way which makes even the most ‘difficult’ poems in the Motion-Morrison anthology seem almost overly accessible. What, for example, are we to make of this?

Now a slight meniscus floats on the moral
pigment of these times, producing
displacement of the body image, the politic

Well, to be frank, who knows? It’s not exactly Wordsworth. Or Browning. Or even Pound. But, then, here at least, in the opening lines of ‘The Ideal Star-Fighter’ from the 1971 collection Brass, there is a sense of density, of a rightness about the proximity of words like ‘pigment’ and ‘albino’, ‘meniscus’ and ‘image’, ‘body’ and ‘politic’. With adequate time and resources, it seems, you might just be able to tease out what these lines and the rest of the poem are about.
Whether you want to do that, of course, is another matter. And in many ways the message which emerges most clearly from the diverse essays collected in A Manner of Utterance is that if you’re asking what Prynne’s poetry is about, you’re already coming at it from the wrong angle.
Written by a variety of readers and collaborators, these essays are not primarily concerned with elucidating the overarching themes of Prynne’s poetry or tracing the development of his work from the shifting but still fundamentally grounded Kitchen Poems of 1968 to the slippery, unleashed verbiage of 2004’s Blue Slides At Rest. Rather they approach Prynne’s work as a reading experience: the predominant question is not ‘what is this about?’, it is ‘what does it feel like to read it?’ As such, they constitute a more useful introduction to the wild world of Prynne than more conventionally exegetical critiques. How reassuring, after all, to come across statements like Erik Ulman’s: ‘My initial encounters with [Prynne’s poetry] have often baffled me, and there are many sequences into which I have as yet only rudimentary insight.’ And yet how encouraging to find quite so many baffled readers also asserting that, even though they still haven’t reached any kind of rudimentary insight, they believe that the pursuit is going to be worth it in the long run. Unlike that kind of literary criticism which attempts to exhaust the possibilities opened up by poetry, these essays strongly refuse any kind of closure. Like Prynne’s poetry itself, they keep their options open, and are all the better as a result.
Not that there are no traces of exegesis here. Simon Perril’s reading of Prynne’s 1987 collection Bands Around The Throat in ‘Hanging on Your Every Word’, for example, is an entirely convincing and illuminating critical engagement with the surfaces and depths of a peculiarly dense and near-apocalyptic series of poems written in the aftermath of the Chernobyl disaster. Whatever Prynne himself might think of the Cambridge discipline of close reading, Perril’s deployment of that technique in combination with contextualising references to geo-political studies of the Chernobyl fall-out brings the poems to life in a way which also illumines their author’s political and poetical displacement. Similarly, Richard Humphreys’ conversations with artist Ian Friend – whose work has included a profound engagement with Prynne’s 1983 collection The Oval Window – draws out and explicates some of the many scientific allusions in Prynne’s work, while Keston Sutherland’s ‘X L Prynne’ usefully questions the ways in which Prynne might be seen as a radical, not simply in terms of his foregrounding of injustice (which is, in fact, one of the supposedly ‘donnish’ poet’s most pressing worldly concerns), but also in relation to his understanding of humanity’s ‘size’, its correlation to the world.
Above all, what these essays bring out are the aesthetic qualities of Prynne’s work, the richness and colour generated by the different voices and vocabularies which cut across it. On the face of it, those cross-cuts render the writing rebarbative, almost hostile to the reader’s interest in or desire for ‘getting something’ from it, but here Brinton and his fellow contributors argue cogently for a different approach, an approach, in fact, which is more relaxed, more forgiving, more hospitable – and more cosmopolitan. As Chinese poet Li Zhi-min points out, reading poetry in the longstanding Chinese tradition involves – indeed, requires – an engagement with the work which might well last a life time: only by repeating and repeating a poem can a reader come anywhere near close to understanding it.
Prynne’s work seems to offer precisely this kind of life-long opportunity. Whether one wants to take up that offer is, of course, up to each individual reader, but the essays Brinton has collected in A Manner of Utterance make for a persuasive argument that, for all the frustrations, bafflements and temptations to waste whole days punching arcane vocabulary into Google, the effort of taking up that offer has its own unique rewards, if only to enable an encounter with a poet whose work could well be described as ‘the/most intricate presence in/our entire culture’. In that sense, at least, Prynne, his readers and his would-be readers are well served.

Seminar - Net-STaR

NET-STaR – Network for Social Tourism and Regeneration
Seminar 3
Social Tourism & Destination Regeneration
National Media Museum, Bradford
Tuesday 21st February 2012, 2 - 6 pm

  • Professor Dick Butler: Destination Rejuvenation: Challenges and Innovations
  • Professor John K. Walton:  Understandign social tourism over time and across cultures
  • Dr Lynn Minnaert, Professor Robert Maitland, Dr Graham Miller:            
    Social tourism today: Innovations and good practice
  • Phil Evans (Visit England):                                                                              
    Is this the wrong time to talk about social tourism?
     There is no charge for this seminar.
    To book a space please email Lynn Minnaert: l.minnaert@surrey.ac.uk

    Manuel tourisme et patrimoine récent

    Mutual Heritage is a project that is part of the cultural heritage Euromed Heritage 4 programme which aims to extend the base of proactive stakeholders on issues concerning heritage in the Mediterranean area. 

    A document representing one of the components of Mutual Heritage, entitled 'Manuel tourisme et patrimoine récent' (Handbook on Tourism and Recent Heritage) can now be accessed online.

    Department Statement on Removal of Skateboard Ramps

    The Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities has asked users of the skateboard ramps placed on the tennis courts at Carter Jones Park, located at 2813 Bainbridge St., to remove the ramps by Wednesday, February 15. The public notice also advises that if the ramps are not removed by that date, they will be removed by the City.
    “While the department supports skateboarding as a

    Institute of Dark Tourism Research

    The world’s first academic centre for dark tourism research will soon open at the University of Central Lancashire. The Institute for Dark Tourism Research (iDTR) aims to become the global hub for dark tourism scholarship.
    The iDTR aims to advance knowledge about the contemporary nature and consequences of visitation to tourist sites of death, disaster or the seemingly macabre. It will bring together scholars who seek to deliver internationally recognised research that contributes to the ethical and social scientific understanding of dark tourism and heritage, as well as to the appropriate development, management, interpretation and promotion of dark tourism sites, attractions and exhibitions.

    The iDTR will be launched at a special one-day symposium at 
    UCLan’s Westleigh Conference Centre on 24 April 2012.


    Provenance issues

    Just what is it about
    this surface I am looking at
    refusing to be said

    source of hope and irritation
    semblance of clouds of paint
    but not clouds not just or

    just is
    no source no semblance either

    Rothko, there, said it.

    Tom Phillips 2012

    Wear Red for Go Red! Richmond


    WHO:             Dr. Carolyn Graham, Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Human ServicesDr. Donald Stern, Director of Public Health
    WHAT:           Go Red! Richmond - A Mayor’s Healthy Richmond Campaign to raise                        awareness of heart disease among women
    WHEN:          Friday, February 3, 2012Noon – 12:30 p.m.                        WHERE:       Marshall Street