5-Peter Manson

ptrmon3forprintPeter Manson lives in Glasgow and is a poet and translator of poetry.  His books include “Poems of Frank Rupture” (Sancho Panza Press), “Adjunct: an Undigest” and “For the Good of Liars” (both from Barque Press) and “Between Cup and Lip” (Miami University Press, Ohio).  Miami UP also publish his book of translations, “Stéphane Mallarmé: The Poems in Verse”.  A new booklet of poems, “Factitious Airs” has just appeared from Zarf Editions.  Peter has been Judith E. Wilson Visiting Fellow in Poetry at the University of Cambridge, and in 2016 was awarded one of the first artist residencies at Little Sparta, the garden of the poet Ian Hamilton Finlay.  Samples of his work, and many links, can be found on his website, petermanson.wordpress.com

What do you suggest people might read or hear in advance of hearing you?

Maybe the poem “raven A”, as it’s not too old and sums up a few things that I do in a small space… https://petermanson.wordpress.com/poems/raven-a/

There’s this draft translation of Mallarmé’s long visual poem “Un coup de Dés” on my WordPress: https://petermanson.files.wordpress.com/2016/03/pm-un-coup-de-des-march-2016.pdf

Where can we find one critical (or other) response to your work that you have found provocative, interesting, insightful or generative?

My favourite thing written about me is still Craig Dworkin’s long essay on Adjunct: http://eclipsearchive.org/Editor/DworkinPWO.pdf

Point us towards some examples of work in other media (art/cinema/music etc) that inflect upon your work, in any way at all:

Boredoms live: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHWtJQ4wbnY

Fushitsusha live: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4VY0YZKT3A

Amen Dunes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6rYOOfOV1c

Talk page for the Wikipedia article “List of Chucklevision Episodes”: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:List_of_ChuckleVision_episodes

Dark Star by John Carpenter: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZyUVhuOWPuY

Clark Coolidge page at the EPC: http://epc.buffalo.edu/authors/coolidge/

Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GIA17H-b7Qs

What readings or performances most shook you up, and why?
Seeing Bob Cobbing and Lawrence Upton perform sound poetry together in London in 1995 was unforgettable — the inexplicability and humour of it, and the quality of their attention and responsiveness, as they translated visual marks on a page into sounds extended in time.  Nothing else has ever been quite that astonishing. Hearing Tom Raworth read his long poems has been important to me too — poetry that works less like a three minute single and more like a long instrumental solo, carrying the listener forward and away on the flow.  I’ve heard many great readings by Maggie O’Sullivan, but her reading of the book “murmur: tasks of mourning” http://www.maggieosullivan.co.uk/murmur.html is the one that stays with me — an absolutely personal rite of mourning, solemn and attentive and deeply moving.
What writing (or whose writing)  is exciting you now?

Off the top of my head, the poetry of Sean Bonney, Nat Raha, Verity Spott, Linus Slug a.k.a. Mendoza, Edmund Hardy, Nisha Ramayya, Kathrine Sowerby, Frances Kruk.  All findable online, lots on youtube, and the books are cheap.

What/who do you wish people read more of?

I wish people would try to do more reading in languages other than English — even if you’re not fluent in a second language, you can learn a lot by using a translation as a crib, trying to follow the syntax of the original and sounding out the words.  I’ve been doing this with Paul Celan’s poetry recently — I couldn’t get much out of the Michael Hamburger translations as poems in their own right, but they’re very useful as a key into understanding the complex and rebarbative originals.

What do you wish you read more of yourself?

Fiction.  I go through occasional fiction binges (my last one was Dickens), but I can go a long time without reading a novel, and I’m shockingly badly-read.  I grew up with an interest in experimental fiction (Beckett, B.S. Johnson, Christine Brooke-Rose), and I know I absorbed through that a kind of prejudice against more conventional narrative.  Dickens helped me get rid of it, but I still don’t read enough.

What is your writing for?  And what is it against?

It’s for complexity, for sensory and semantic overload, for humour, maybe particularly the slapstick humour of linguistic mishap, for demonstrating the personal and even emotional continuity that underlies all the mess and blurt and dislocation — not a deodorised avant-garde, but a writing that emerges from the crises and particularities of one body and as many minds as will fit in it.  It’s against the poem as a small, luminous narrative vignette, against decorative simile and metaphor, against boredom.  For The Boredoms.

 Ask yourself a question you’d like to answer. It could be one of these from the questionnaire in the last issue of the Little Review (below)or anything else at all you think might be good.
Given that your poetry doesn’t pay and is read by almost no people, why do you continue writing it?
I’ve been writing for thirty years, and the honest answer is that I’ve reached a point where my own sense of wellbeing is absolutely dependent on my ability to keep writing.  I often forget this, but if I am writing or translating poetry, the lived experience of shaping and making and transforming language gives me a basic sense of being at home in the world and an ability to cope with whatever else is happening in my life.  I find that as I get older, my poems are more likely to be written with a particular person or a particular occasion in mind — the poems are often gifts or acts of homage, and the tendency to move the focus of the writing away from myself and towards even a small part of the outside world feels good, as if I’m at least moving in the right direction.
Hear Peter here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z-z25_WwMoI & on the Archive of the Now: http://www.archiveofthenow.org/authors/?i=59&f=2237#2237