Still on in London for one more week at the Victoria Miro Gallery are some of the neons and silkscreens of Ian Hamilton Finlay (in collaboration with Julie Farthing) to commemorate the first anniversary of his death. The works are deeply de-familiarizing, brilliant in conception and extraordinary in execution and as precise verbally as Niedecker or Basho, resonant with meaning. "Zimmerit - Haunting Wood Nymph" (1992) in both neon and silkscreen for example. Gone are the days when you could purchase one of his carved wooden oars inscribed "Odysseus Was Here" for a nominal sum. The neons are on offer from between seven and twenty thousand pounds sterling (i.e. between 14 and 40 thousand greenback dollars). For anyone still unfamiliar with the work of this greatest Scots artist of the 20th century, there are permanent installations outside the Serpentine in Hyde Park, and his garden at Stonypath (which I have yet to see). IAN HAMILTON FINLAY A VISUAL PRIMER by Yves Abrioux is an excellent and invaluable book, and the text and visuals end by documenting the still wildly controversial Speer Project. For me personally, his work is fascinating, inspiring, unique.

FIRE poetry journal, edited by Jeremy Hilton, out of Oxfordshire, has recently issued number 27, and the lead poem by Chris Torrance, whose work is still unknown in the U.S., is worth the price of the issue. FIRE usually runs to 200 pages, and sprinkles in the work of well-respected innovative British poets and emerging poets in each issue, although the concentration is on the work of little known and often previously unpublished poets, so, obviously, there is an uneven quality to the journal, which is a kind of literary project; however, it is also one of the few journals in the UK open to submissions by American poets, well-known and otherwise, not previously published in England. Each issue is prefaced by a short excerpt from the lyrics of a folksong, and each issue is themed, though loosely. It is done on a relative shoestring, money from Hilton's pension more often than not, and the poet-editor is hard-line insistent that he will not accept grants from Arts funding bodies. Torrance, who gave up a career in law in London to write full-time, is widely known in Britain, especially for his ongoing work, THE MAGIC DOOR. He is also the dedicatee of one of Iain Sinclair's novels, LANDOR'S TOWER, and he has chosen to live in rural isolation in Wales, in the upper Neath valley. His poem in Fire #27, "Dreaming Viv" is based on the Carole Seymour Jones biography of Vivienne Eliot. It is a heartfelt poem, and the deceptively simple and accessible surface belies the crystalline distillation of the quality of thought which has gone into the four page work.

When quite recently visiting Hilton and his partner, poet and writer Kim Taplin (see my review of her book "The English Path" on "iprefernottopart2.blogspot.com" - i.e. omoo part 2), Jeremy put me onto the work of a young poet from Wales, Lyndon Davies, whose new book, HYPHASIS (Parthian Press, 2007) is a breakthrough for him. Definitely worth reading.

And a breathrough of sorts as well for well-known poet and publisher Ken Edwards is his BIRD MIGRATION IN THE TWENTY FIRST CENTURY, published in an edition of 250 by Paul Green of Spectacular Diseases, whose press and distribution services are long a staple of the British underground.

It used to be easy to find chapbooks like these in iconic London bookstores, vanished, like Compendium, Better Books, Indica, and now there is only one bookstore in London specializing in small press work, BOOKARTBOOKS, @ 17 Pitfield Street, near the Old Street tube. Open only Wednesday - Saturday in the afternoons, they don't stock much small press poetry yet - specializing in artists' books, and pataphysical publications, except for odd items like back issues of AND, Bob Cobbing's mag, but they do have a wide-ranging selection of work from Stewart Home, the "intellectual enfant terrible of the UK post-punk art movement and cult writing circuit" whose pamphlet, THE CORRECT WAY TO BOIL WATER, from Sabotage Editions, BM Senior, London WC1N 3XX, confirms his position as one of the foremost cultural critics in the English language. As part of the back-cover blurb states: "His work to date being one gargantuan anti-narrative that juxtaposes pulp/trash/porn with high-minded literary/social/political theory - an intertextualising of dissent and a vital one at that. It is about time we begin to accept that Stewart Home is the shadowy figure lying beneath modern British artistic/literary culture." (Lee Rourke, Scarecrow editorial Monday December 12, 2005)

It was Tara Woolnough, daughter of Keith Woolnough, (see my blog for Friday, November 18, 2005 - omoo (part 1): "iprefernotto.blogspot.com" for further information on Keith)
who hipped her father to the bookstore, and also, on a more commerical level (i.e. wider distribution /overtly capitalist press) recommended what is a most interesting quick read indeed: THE RELUCTANT FUNDAMENTALIST, a novel by Mohsin Hamid.

Also recommended are two of the sweetly wondrous and marvellously authentic novels of Celestine Hitiura Vaite, FRANGIPANI, and, most recently, TIARE. She is the first native Tahitian to be writing novels in English.