The Bow-Wow Shop Salon: Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Coleridge, painted at the age of 42, by Washington Allston
Bow-Wow Shop has dived, quite fearlessly, into new waters. And at
such a time of year too! We are now hosting a bi-monthly salon at
Omnibus, Clapham, the finest arts centre this side of Irkutsk.
us there on 6 March, at 7.30pm, for an evening which will be spent
in thoughtful celebration of the man no human being of intellect
and/or heart and/or judgment can afford to avoid: Samuel Taylor
Coleridge. There will be poetry. A well judged selection of
Coleridge's own, of course. There will be a talk by Martyn Crucefix
about Coleridge the man. Tom Lowenstein will be reading from In
his magnificent piece of Coleridge-haunted ventriloquism. There will
be song. There will be art – an entire exhibition of
two-dimensional work on the theme of
that deathless phrase from the second line of
this portfolio by Henri Gaudier-Brzeska include one of the lost
preparatory drawings for Ezra Pound's hieratic head?
Pound once declared that Henri Gaudier-Brzeska had done 'hundreds' of
preparatory drawings for the head of him that Gaudier sculpted in
marble. Was he exaggerating? Just nine of them survive. Now we may
have spotted a tenth... Here's how it came about.
the Great War had ended in general exhausted misery, what did Ezra
Pound do with the various bits and pieces that he had acquired from
the tempestuous sculptor Henri Gaudier-Brezska, his much lamented,
recently deceased friend with the unpronounceable surname? Well, he
took the marble Hieratic Head of himself off to Italy, where
it lived in his garden in Rapallo for years, braving the elements,
and doubtless eavesdropping upon many conversations about the
unwobbling pivot and usurious skullduggery. Now its home is the
National Gallery of Art in Washington.
what of all the other stuff? Last week we came across a portfolio of
twenty drawings by Henri Gaudier once owned by Pound in Peter Ellis'
marvellous bookshop in Cecil Court, W1. Not the originals, alas, but
a rare copy of a publication in which they were reproduced. It was
called, quite simply, H. Gaudier-Brzeska 1891-1915, and it was
published by the Ovid Press in 1920. Above you can see its cover, propped up
against a decent edition of Walton's Compleat Angler, and also
featuring, deftly squeezed in top left, a glimpse of the poet Marius
Kociejowski at the plastic key board in partially distracted mood.
are those drawings. Have you every seen this drawing of Pound before?
Have you seen any of these drawings before? We neither. Look
out too for the rapid likenesses of Basil Bunting, with the fierce
goatee beard. Sooner or later there will be a catalogue
raisonnée of Gaudier's drawings. Let's hope that these
drawings are included in it.
The Evolution of a Melodious Idea
Ryan Mosley, Seam Birds, 60 x 50 cms, Courtesy Alison Jacques Gallery
Dispassionate scientific research can lead to surprising outcomes. It can also happen quite by chance. The Poetry Society in London's Covent Garden has recently been monitoring stress levels at poetry readings in its basement. The editor of Poetry Review, Maurice Riordan, happened to bring into the office one day a small aviary containing his recent purchases from an open air market on the Ile de La Cité in Paris, where fowl - including the dinkiest of small birds - of almost every description can be purchased.
It so happens that the aviary was left in a far corner of the basement, well within sight of the microphone, during a long evening of readings by guest poets, all Tatars from the Crimea. Most of the audience - which largely consisted of the poets' immediate families - remained fiercely attentive throughout. As one might expect. The birds' collective response was utterly different - as you can see from this painting by Ryan Mosley, who was guest artist there that evening.
Here we see the birds ninety minutes into an extraordinarily strident reading by Slobodan Skrofnik. Their heads are noticeably slumped, as if in a half-sleep or coma. When the condition of the birds was noticed, the aviary was quietly removed from the room, and each of the birds laid out, side by side, as if in some tender scene from Gone With the Wind, along the length of the editor's desk. Fortunately, there were still some random droplets of beer remaining in a bottle in one of the various crates beside the editor's swivel chair. Ryan sprinkled each of their heads in turn, as if asperging them, and they began to revive, albeit briefly.
Desperate to find a solution, his eyes happened to light on a book by Soren Kierkegaard that was weighing down a hefty sheaf of postal submissions to the magazine - the Poetry Review will have no truck with emails, and we applaud them for that resolute stance. The book was called Fear and Trembling - which seemed to summarise precisely the mood of those birds trapped in that reading room.
Kierkegaard was a new discovery for Ryan, and what pleased him most - it came as something of a welcome distraction from the misery of all those supine creatures - was the name of the author, which struck him as quite extraordinarily mellifluous. To such an extent that he began to say it out loud, in that rich North Derbyshire voice of his, repeating it over and over until it transformed itself into a species of mind-numbing mantra of sorts.
As this was happening, the birds not only began to revive, all raising their heads and violently blinking in collective wonderment, but they took up the chorus to such an astonishing degree that Ryan whipped out his notebook and recorded the sounds that they made as they took that delicious name apart and reassembled it, fragment by musical fragment. It was the evolution of a truly melodious idea.
Kee! Kee! Kee! Kee! Kee!
Kir! Kir! Kir! Kir! Kir!
Krik! Krik! Krik! Krik! Krik!
Kir! Kir! Kir! Kir!
Kee! Kee! Kee! Kee!
Kirk! Kirk! Kirk! Kirk!
Kierk! Kierk! Kierk! Kierk!
Kierk! Kierk! Kierk! Kierk!
Gaard! Gaard! Gaard! Gaard! Gaard!
Gaard! Kee! Gaard! Kir!
Kir! Gar! Kir! Gar! Kir! Ga! Kirk!
GaKierk! GaKierk! GaKierk! GaKierk!
Kirkga! Kirkga! Kirkga! Ga!
Gaark! Gaark! Gaark! Gaark!
Kierkag Kierkag Kierkag Kierkag
Aar! Aar! Aar! Aar! Aar! Aargh!
Aard! Aargh! Aaard! Aaargh! Aaaargh!
Kierkaga Kierkaga Kierkaga Kierkaga
Kagaar Kagaar Kagaar Kagaar Kagarrrr...