The long title poem of John Greening's The Silence is a meditation on Jean Sibelius and the thirty years he spent grappling with an eighth symphony, which in the end he probably burned. The poem is emblematic of a broader concern with the mystery of the creative process, explored here in the work of other artists but also grappled with first-hand, in the composition of poems. The collection is haunted by other kinds of silence too, especially that most emphatic one (notably in Greening's witty formal verse letter, `Airmail for Chief Seattle' and an Egyptian sequence based on wall paintings in the British Museum), but at the same time it is open to the bright potentiality of the unknown, the beyond. A tribute to the late Dennis O'Driscoll is a bold meditation on hope, a mood intensified in a series of uplifting Hoelderlin translations. Elsewhere, Greening visits the Peak District, Brecklands, chalklands and a lost world of highwaymen and mythology beneath the runways of Heathrow, tuning in to the special music of each place. Along the way are striking individual poems on trees, penny coins, Hilliard miniatures, a coal bunker, a totem pole, the X5 bus route and musical migrating geese.
'Beyond the admirable craftsmanship that characterises almost all of his work, one of Greening's great strengths is his historical imagination.' - Glyn Pursglove
About John Greening
John Greening was brought up near Heathrow, and studied at Swansea, Mannheim and Exeter. Having worked for BBC Radio 3 under Hans Keller, he then joined Voluntary Service Overseas. He and his wife were sent to teach in Aswan, Upper Egypt for two years, and he was awarded the Alexandria Poetry Prize before publication of his earliest books, Westerners (Hippopotamus Press, 1982) and The Tutankhamun Variations (Bloodaxe, 1991). A dozen further collections followed, notably Hunts: Poems 1979-2009 (Greenwich Exchange, 2009), and To the War Poets (Carcanet, 2013). Over the last decades, he has edited the work of Edmund Blunden and Geoffrey Grigson, produced several anthologies, and written studies of Elizabethan Love Poets, Yeats, Hardy, First World War Poets, Edward Thomas and Ted Hughes. Among other awards, he has won an Arvon (judged by Hughes and Heaney), the Bridport and a Cholmondeley. A long-time reviewer for the TLS and an Eric Gregory judge, he has appeared at the British Academy and Shakespeare's Globe, performing his own work or talking about other people's, and has contributed to various radio and television programmes. Collaborations include the sequence, Heath, with Penelope Shuttle, libretti for composers Cecilia McDowall and Philip Lancaster, and contributions to baritone Roderick Williams's Schubert Project. Since retiring from teaching, John Greening has held several Fellowships, most recently for the RLF at Newnham College, Cambridge.
The Silence by John Greening
Used - Very Good
Carcanet Press Ltd
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