John Tranter

Under the Horizon

Hugh Sykes Davies

'A lioness in the sidecar'

Hugh Sykes Davies
Hugh Sykes Davies


In the special Cambridge UK issue of Jacket, number 20

"He had done so many things and played so many parts that you never felt you had come to the end of him. Some knew Hugh Sykes Davies as a wit, some as a lover, some as a teacher; and there were those who read his novels and even his poems. He also married a good deal. He had many wives, four of them his own; taught at Cambridge for nearly half a century — a communist for half the time; was a surrealist in the Paris of the mid-1930s; and finally, as faith and dogma ran dry, a structural linguist. He was once to have been a candidate for the House of Commons too, in 1940, in an election canceled because of invasion fears..... Lowry’s «Under the Volcano», when it finally appeared in 1947, meant nothing to Hugh. It was alcoholic fiction, he declared, though near the end of his life he was persuaded by Canadian television to make a program; and he did it on the symbolic condition they supplied a bottle of brandy in a Cambridge UK pub during the interview. That put him in a high good humor. As he walked home late he came upon a lonely policeman standing outside King’s College and approached him unsteadily. ‘Have there been any interesting fires in the colleges this evening, constable?’"

Singapore Writers Festival 2012

Literature on the Equator

Art work: Yuree Kensaku: "The Killer from Electricity Authority" (detail), 2009
Art work: Yuree Kensaku: "The Killer from Electricity Authority" (detail), 2009, Singapore Art Museum, Singapore. Photo John Tranter. Other photos of Singapore at night by the well-known 'unknown photographer'. «Blade Runner» photos courtesy of «Blade Runner».

Just back from the Singapore Writers Festival 2012. A busy week, with multicultural literary insights interspersed with varied culinary delights. Singapore is the acme and ne plus ultra of shopping and cooking, as the closing debate of the Festival agreed, and Orchard Road at night, the premium shopping area, outdoes the scene in «Blade Runner» where the Harrison Ford character eats at a roadside stall, surrounded by milling throngs and lit by the glare of dozens of huge video advertisements.

Joanne Kyger feature in Jacket 11

Edited by Linda Russo

Joanne Kyger, photo by Bill Berkson, Angel Hair, 1970
Joanne Kyger, photo by Bill Berkson, Angel Hair, 1970

"Peter Orlofsky locks himself in the bathroom all night and smokes opium and then vomits all the next morning so we travel slowly."

Linda Russo: Introduction
Joanne Kyger — poem — “Man” from Man/Women
Kevin Killian — The “Carola Letters"
Charlie Vermont — “Form/id/able” and Joanne Kyger
Linda Russo — an interview with Joanne Kyger

British poet Basil Bunting

Spying for MI6 and the CIA

Basil Bunting, Cumbria, UK, 1980. Photograph (c) Jonathan Williams
Basil Bunting, Cumbria, UK, 1980. Photograph (c) Jonathan Williams

British poet Basil Bunting was part of the plot engineered by the CIA, MI6 and Anglo Oil to depose Prime Minister (of Iran) Mossadeq, whose administration, as Wikipedia says, “introduced a wide range of social reforms but is most notable for its nationalization of the Iranian oil industry, which had been under British control since 1913 through the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (APOC/AIOC) (later British Petroleum or BP).” They go on to say that Mossadeq “was removed from power in a coup on 19 August 1953, organised and carried out by the United States CIA at the request of the British MI6.” So

Olivier Brossard: 'The Last Clean Shirt'

A film by Alfred Leslie and Frank O'Hara, 1964

Still from the film 'The Last Clean Shirt', 1964
Still from the film 'The Last Clean Shirt', 1964

Where they’ve come from. We’re not even up to 23rd Street yet. Sings a little song in middle. ‘I hate driving.’ — Frank O’Hara, ‘The Sentimental Units,’ Collected Poems, 467.

In 1964, American painter and film maker Alfred Leslie and poet Frank O’Hara completed the movie The Last Clean Shirt. It was first shown at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 1964 and later that year at Lincoln Center in New York, causing an uproar among the audience. The movie shows two characters, a black man and a white woman, driving around Manhattan in a convertible car. The Last Clean Shirt is a true collaboration between a film maker and a poet since Frank O’Hara wrote the subtitles to the dialogue or rather the monologue: the woman is indeed the only character who speaks and she furthermore expresses herself in Finnish gibberish, which demanded that subtitles be added.

Olivier Brossard’s article (with stills from the movie) is 9,000 words or about twenty printed pages long. You can read it all here, in Jacket 23.