Desperate for Words

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Archive for the ‘Poetry in the News’ Category

Abstract Expressionist, Grace Hartigan, dies at 86

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Grace Hartigan, Abstract Expressionist and one time New York painter has died at the age of 86, reports The Baltimore Sun. Hartigan was a confidante of the poet Frank O’Hara who had posed for her and written poems to her. She said that although he was homosexual, their emotional intimacy was more intense than any she had with a heterosexual man. O’Hara’s biographer, Brad Gooch, believed the lines “Grace/ to be born and live as variously as possible,” which are engraved on O’Hara’s tombstone, were written for Hartigan. The artist credited O’Hara with influencing her on the use of popular culture. O’Hara’s poetry could jump from Picasso and Lana Turner. She told The New York Times: “Frank broke down the barriers between so-called high and low art.” She took to Abstract Expressionism in the late 40’s but not long afterward began spiking it with images of ads and department store mannequins and street life, early evidence of what she calls her “desire to get the balance of abstraction and imagery, like the porridge, just right — not too hot, not too cold.”

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Poet stirs up religious storms over new book

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Written by alanhay68

November 18, 2008 at 1:16 pm

Poet stirs up religious storms over latest book

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Patrick Jones, brother of Nicky Wire from the Manic Street Preachers, has caused controversy with his latest collection of poetry. The Cardiff branch of Waterstone’s has accused Jones “of deliberately provoking a “furore” about his latest collection, forcing the company to cancel its official launch”, reported the BBC. The bookseller’s called off Patrick Jones’s book-signing after a campaign by a Christian organisation. The author confirmed that he e-mailed his poems to Christian and Muslim groups and to the far-right organisation Combat 18 before the event in an attempt “to spark debate”. A campaign by activists Christian Voice pronounced the book “obscene and blasphemous”. The bookstore has now released a further statement defending the cancellation, saying: “The poetry reading was organised and planned in good faith between our store and the publisher.”However, it would appear that shortly before the event took place, the author deliberately took provocative action to create a furore around the publication of his book. These actions were taken without prior discussion with the store or their consent and altered the nature of the pre-agreed event. For this reason and because of the risk of disruption to the store, our staff and customers we felt it appropriate to cancel the event.” The issues in Jones’s poems include religion and domestic violence against men. He had this to say: “I sent a few poems to many different organisations on 2 November and I said ‘Please find a few poems. I would appreciate your feedback’,” he said. “I was hoping that maybe they would come out and have a debate. That’s within my rights to do that. Even if they had come out to protest, that doesn’t mean Waterstone’s should give up [on the launch]. That’s freedom of expression.” Er..Yeah? Another blow to the artist in my opinion. Why have some religious organisations been powerful enough to effectively close down one man’s launch? And why is nobody getting hot under the collar about it?

UPDATE: An internet campaign has been launched urging people to boycott Waterstone’s following the cancellation of Patrick Jones’s event. The Facebook protest was launched by mental health nurse Matthew Evans in support of the poet. So far more than 150 internet users have signed up. Join the campaign.

Photograph by Jane Newman Jones. Taken from Patrick’s website