In his witty, entertaining and linguistically brilliant fiction the poet Robert Nye has played at being many different selves, historical and mythological (Falstaff brought him to the attention of the reading public back in 1976). The material deployed and sometimes redeployed in the novels is (to use an image from one of Nye’s recent poems) like so much thread drawn out of a spider’s entrails. The danger for Nye has always been that the material of his inner life – fashioned by whatever psychic disturbance made him a poet in the first place – would engulf his work completely. Nye’s poetry is at its best (and the poetry is the best of Nye’s work) when the outside world threatens to impinge on this inner world, like rain beating against a window. Which is precisely the situation that gave rise to the earliest of Nye’s poems included in The Rain and the Glass (dreamt, as he says in the foreword, while he lay asleep beside a window one rainy afternoon in Essex). The final poem in this reverse-chronological collection, ‘Listeners’ is an extraordinary poem for a thirteen-year-old to have written, and an unusually impersonal one – unpeopled, in fact.
Follow Literary Review on Twitter
Perception is a weird thing. Lawrence Durrell saw Hydra as a ‘great horned toad’ but Henry Miller thought it resembled a ‘huge loaf of petrified bread’. Niko Ghika painted it as a series of neat white and orange squares.
The minimalist Fumio Sasaki 'confesses that as he began to purchase fewer consumer goods, his meals shrank in size. He decluttered and lost weight. Accumulation is not just an economic way of life but a form of embodiment too. Enlightenment is reduction.'
'The river’s desecration mirrors Colombia’s long history of violence: "for years we treated it like a sewer," says Ahmed, a survivor of a particularly brutal paramilitary massacre, "just like we treated each other".'
Patrick Wilcken on the Magdalena.