Lucky lucky - yesterday's obligations fell away and I spent several hours at Paraparaumu Library studying for my review, and I chanced to find a perfect book about how to write critiques. David Hill's On Poetry; 12 studies of works by New Zealand poets, (1984, Heinemann). And one of those critiques was of La Belle Dame Sans Merci by Rex Fairburn, which I'd read about only the day before. The entire text of the poem was reproduced for each review. Two birds.
David Hill was fun, clear and helpful - enjoyed Viv Joseph, whom I'd never read before. All this talk about 'domestic' poetry, it's a put-down. They say it of Jenny Bornholdt too. And somewhere of Wislawa S.
To go back to La Belle Dame, I was very happy. I'd found some of RF's poetry too remote for me, but this felt direct and simple. The simplicity being the art, together with having something worthwhile to say. Observation and the ability to express it well make a good poet, but not a great one, it seems. (Cricket: pompous. Suzannah: Sorry. Couldn't work out how to say it differently; it's something that matters, and which I'd suddenly seen.)
Read a poetry review in an issue of Landfall. I will give no details, it deserves to be lost. Such poison, such vigour in the nastiness. No one was safe, nothing was good anywhere. The author alone remained standing, sword in hand, amid the charred ruins.
Am re-reading WS for the sake of the review, the third time, to select the poems I want to focus on.