Sunday, 1 June 2014

1.6.14 I have had a mad panic to realize my new publisher is a poet too. I wondered what the hell I would do if I didn't like his work. How awkward that would be. Yesterday, I decided to take the plunge, and it was great. I had a thoroughly lovely time. He's a very fine writer. I wrote to him right away and below is a potted version of that email:

Peter Carpenter: Just like That. smith/Doorstop

Peter, I've read right through your book -- and loved it!
Among the beauty, humour, fine description, and a known kind of painterly landscape (difficult to describe otherwise, but to me a bit like Paul Nash
​and Ravillious ​
who I love) is a kind of English decency. It's hard to say how very good this is to read without you thinking I'm saying it's dull. It's not --it's just so very rare. We've had so much post-imperial angst and loss of identity, and guilt and bollocks and good things being grabbed by the Right or turned into caricatures like Cameron and his crew or Farage. So much not knowing ourselves if it isn't regional in some way. Even Larkin whose four slim volumes I loved --and I love your poem on that - was kind of acid.

​And ​I have been waiting so long for someone to do what you have done to Eliot, I haven't been able to stop laughing WITH DELIGHT for about half an hour! It's brilliant, really brilliant.
​If you never wrote anything else, you should be remembered with gratitude for 'The League Goals....

You​ are not ​highly dramatic, but ​you have really born witness and really looked. Noticed. Spoken up or out when  needed, loved, lost (I love the poems about the children - so tender -- and about your parents -- their loss and losses particularly), just 'carried on' in the wider sense. It's smaller scale like Austen or Emily Dickinson, but with huge trajectories into violence and war, torture, decay, outrage, etc then an adroit return to golf, cricket, being matter of fact.. This is summed up really in the poem 'The Tenth' --ostensibly about golf, it is in fact about grief and scattering ashes (presumably your father's). I suppose it's the drama in every day life really. You are reticent about wounds, though they are there, and you are openly and roundly tender.
I have noted so many poems I especially loved --my particular favourites:

'The Dimension of the Present Moment' (fabulous), 'Old Ground'(I know that so well -so well put!), 'Double Helix'(great stuff), 'Downs', 'The Tenth', Towards Cap Gris Nez',' 'The Baby', (amazing), 'Summit' (that's a huge work), 'Horton' (ditto), 'An unidentified Man' -one of my very favourites, 'Sand Person' (ditto), 'Gift' -love this! 'To one who denied the truth' --yes, I love that steadiness! 'Entering the Midlands', 'Old Mouldy' -in my case old Hollyhocks ie Miss Hollier, or old Scabby, Mr Scammel my English teacher who wrote 'The Squid-Jigging Ground' in Newfoundland --I was horrible to him I liked him so much!! 'On finding an Old Photograph', iv, especially of 'Cambridge', and of course your lovely 'Two Men Contemplating the Moon'.
Thank you for this lovely afternoon of pleasure! You literally have made my day!
Olivia x

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