Peter - portrait/ritratto

Peter - portrait/ritratto

giovedì 30 dicembre 2010

Book Review - Not Everyone Thinks Annie Freud is a Bobby Soxer

Annie Freud – Picador Poetry

One would expect the title poem of a collection to have some wallop behind it. But Annie Freud’s starts with a dull clunk - “A young poet visits an older poet” - and then tramples through six thudding, unrhymed couplets to a dreary banality: “… every day for the rest of her life”.
Blurb can rarely be trusted and the back cover claims for The Mirabelles certainly qualify as misleading advertising. “The most gripping account of a billiards game you’ll ever read” turns out in “The Peculiar Clucking that Indicates Regret” to be an exhibition match totally devoid of any tension or excitement that plods along with a bit of jargon here and there to the grand finale of the last line: “That ended the most brilliant display of the game”. A pity the same cannot be said for the previous three pages of prose-poetry at its poorest. Poor prose and poorer poetry.
This obviously has something to do with Freud’s purported “boldly unfashionable lack of irony”. This is euphemistic for “blunt”. Nobody refuses something off the back of a lorry so I suppose the almost cruel delight in finding and then plucking a “pheasant dead on the road … her body is warm” can pass as brutal honesty. There is a suggestion of gluttony since this delicacy joins “chipolatas, chops and cheese” (my goodness, the lady knows about alliteration). Yet a few pages later we come to “Christmas Poem”, where a shot partridge is shoved through a letterbox – and my doubts that Freud is short on compassion are confirmed. Inasmuch, all Freud’s apparent matter-of-factness (“especially in these times”, “scrape the barrel”) ends up as a mere pose.
It happens that I live in Verona and know Monte Baldo (page 21) extremely well – but I can’t for the life of me grasp the connection between the content of this poem and the title. Nothing in it brings Monte Baldo to mind at all. This is another characteristic of the book - a taste for non sequiturs (not to mention fashionably long and flippant titles) that ultimately becomes extremely irritating.
It is also extremely middle class, smug and complacent. “The Actual Pronunciations” – one of the poems inspired by family letters that the blurb insists “are profoundly moving and startling” – is a catalogue of consumerism and selfishness, stuffed full of wine and food but, sadly, absolutely no song. It is limp and very, very boring.
It is also an ugly book, typographically speaking. Curiously, the poem with the longest lines has the shortest title - “Ute” - but had to be set in a smaller font to get it on the page. Possibly better than being spread-eagled over two pages with indents to indicate non-breaking lines and consequently lots of jagged white space but the horrible visual clash is very amateurish, nevertheless. “Ute” has yet another lip-licking catalogue of “food, jars of honey, eggs and flowers” alongside “concentration camps” and “the upstart Hitler” but reminds me of the first flying machines: try as hard as it will, it never quite gets off the ground and succeeds only in falling flat on its face. The description of Ute is chock full of information that could become a fine portrait but it is, instead, prosaic and – sorry to repeat myself – dreary. It is plain, obvious, humdrum – an attempt at irony that, in failing, is worse than merely being blunt.
“Thunder in the Middle of the Lake” is also set in a smaller font and its two three-line stanzas have very twee gaps in the “middle” of the first line and the first two lines respectively - presumably an effort at visual poetry, that rears its stale head again in the poem opposite.
There’s also a certain pretentiousness; I have no commiseration for the person in bed after eating a “rather nasty omelette, / eggs being the only provender in the house” as the closing lines to a discussion of Desdemona and “the cry of all women / all over the world” (all-all and other such repetition is another cause of the generally leaden rhythms of the collection). Something also comes across as very patronising – a determination to funnel as much as possible into certain poems for the sake of impact and cleverness, showing off and demanding applause for such bravado. There is a hollow, empty ring to it. A castle of playing cards that the mere whiff of critically turning the pages blows flat. It is the malaise of creative writing courses, degrees and departments where the bicycle pumps of reciprocal back-patting generate a lot of air yet very little real substance.
Carrots, melting beef, tarte Tatin – there’s an obsession with food here and “The Case of the Egyptologist’s Honey-Pot” manages to combine this and many of the other faults in this collection: mind-boggling non sequiturs, long lines set in a smaller font, prose masquerading as poetry while being neither one nor the other, unjustified length and sheer boredom.
There’s all the flippancy that seems to be so much in vogue these days. While I quite like “inexplicable human gorgeousness”, it is one of the few phrases to rise above the general, corny dullness. Whoever wrote “exhilarating cornucopia” for the blurb surely read another book.
Which brings me to other blurb, this time from the Poetry Book Society Winter 2010 Bulletin. In the listing for the TS Eliot Prize 2009 (page 20, which is surely a typo, corrected as 2010 in the first paragraph), we learn that Annie is the great-granddaughter of Sigmund Freud and daughter of painter Lucian Freud –we probably suspected that since it’s not such a common surname. Yet they simply couldn’t resist throwing in the info that her maternal grandfather was Sir Jacob Epstein. You can’t help having suspicions, can you?


Presentazioni in programma per gennaio 2011
presso Librerie Gheduzzi
e come ospite di
Frangenti culturali

Availability of Weathering

My new book is available through my small-press publisher:

Bonaccorso Editore
Via Mazza 30/c
37129 Verona / Italy /
attn Dr Antonio Seracini

Disponibilità Weathering

Il mio libro esce tramite una piccola casa editrice:

Bonaccorso Editore
Via Mazza 30/c 37129 Verona / /
attn Dr Antonio Seracini

spedizione senza spesa postale.

venerdì 3 dicembre 2010


La ricerca sugli animali è un colossale inganno: nessun farmaco testato sugli animali è sicuro per l'uomo. NESSUNO. Fatto riconosciuto dagli stessi meschini ricercatori. Allora il loro scopo finale è evidentemente la sperimentazione diretta su pazienti umani. Tant'è vero che 200-300,000 persone muoiono in Europa ogni anno per cause legate ai farmaci prescritti da medici, e un numero simile in Nord America. Più o meno l'intera popolazione di una città come Verona. Il 30% delle malattie negli Stati Uniti è provocato da errori medici. Gli studi clinici in soggetti umani sono condotti su "volontari" dai paesi poveri obbligati ad accettare una misera mancia dalle case farmaceutiche per campare. Le stesse case farmaceutiche rifiutano di consentire la produzione "generica" di farmaci contro la malaria, ad esempio, pur di avere a disposizione questa armata di poveri cristi... preferendo studi sui prodotti per trattare l'obesità rampante nei paesi occidentali e comunque ed in ogni caso il profitto al posto della salute. L'OMS riconosce come utili soltanto 200 medicinali - tutto il resto è da buttare. Infine, il settore farmacologico è il sesto fonte di inquinamento mondiale - i batteri sviluppano facilmente l'immunità in seguito al contatto con quantità diluite, e il circolo si riprende. E i cacciatori sparano, i ricercatori iniettano, i carnivori umani mangiano, la genetica viene modificata senza la minima idea delle conseguenze, ecc. ecc. Bel progresso. Complimenti, umanità.


Thalidomide and cigarettes have absolutely no effect whatsoever on rats. A small dose of paracetomol treats a headache in humans but a proportionally similar dose kills snakes. What is toxic/beneficial for one species is not necessarily so in another. There are also now alternative methods which are actually much more efficient, more effective, cheaper and cruelty-free (tissue cultures, mathematical models, etc.). And scientifically convalidated. Tests on animals cannot be convalidated, which is why there are risks for use in humans. With rare exceptions, the results of animal tests in the past are unreliable, unrepeatable and downright misleading (negative results never get published...) Most modern scientists agree that the insistence on animal tests is actually slowing down progress. 300 million rabbits alone died in tests in Europe last year.
My point is that our attitude to animals is part and parcel of our overall attitude to the Creation: the miracle of this planet and all its forms of life is being poisoned, polluted, debased in the name of profit. It's immensely sad to think that billions of years will be utterly wiped out in the space of 3 or 4 centuries.


Research involving animals is a colossal fraud: no drug tested on animals is safe for Man. NOT ONE. This fact is acknowledged by the deceitful researchers themselves. Consequently, their final goal is evidently direct experimentation involving human patients. So much so that 200-300,000 people die in Europe every year from causes linked with drugs prescribed by doctors, and a similar number in North America. More or less the entire population of a city such as Verona. 30% of illnesses in the United States are caused by medical errors. Clinical studies in human subjects are conducted on “volunteers” in poor countries obliged to do so for peanuts paid by pharmaceutical giants in order to survive. The same pharmaceutical companies refuse to allow “generic” production of drugs to treat malaria, for example, to ensure that this sad band of hapless human guinea pigs is always available ... they prefer researching products for treating galloping obesity in the western world and without exception place profit ahead of health. The WHO indicates that only 200 medicines are really useful – the rest should be thrown away. Lastly, the pharmacological sector is the sixth largest source of pollution in the world – and so bacteria develop immunity following contact with diluted quantities and the whole circle gets going again. And hunters blast their shotguns, scientists inject their poisons, carnivores devour their meat and genetics are modified without the least idea of the consequences. What fine progress. Congratulations, Mankind ... but perhaps I should say Man-Cruel.