New Departures, £15. Order for £13.50 (free p&p) on 0870 079 8897
A New Waste Land, By Michael Horovitz
From bad to verse: a poetic rant about Blair, Bush and the evil politicians do
Thursday 20 March 2008
Michael Horovitz is a firebrand of a performance poet, now approaching his 73rd year, who believes in love, peace, universal harmony and the redistribution of wealth just as quickly as possible. He is proud to align himself with a line of vatic poets who fought for justice and peace on earth, including William Blake – and, of course, his old friend Allen Ginsberg.
Horovitz's new book-length poem, the longest he has ever self-published, purports to be some kind of an extension of TS Eliot's Waste Land, but it is not really a sequel, for various reasons.
Though Eliot's vision is just as desolate as Horovitz's, it is a much more fragmentary overview, which manages from first to last to maintain a kind of lofty, cerebral distance from its subject matter. Horovitz, on the other hand, is always in the thick of things, throwing out hammer blows left and right. He is more a satirist than anything else, and this book is much more like Pope's Dunciad than Eliot's Waste Land. Except that Horovitz doesn't write in strict measures – his is a kind of free-flowing, free-flying free verse of a William Carlos Williams-ish kind, which sometimes modulates into concrete poetry, soaring and flowing and looping all over the place.
What exactly is Horovitz getting so exercised about? Politicians, and the evil that they do. And one in particular: B Liar, the Big Blurr, Tony Bonehead. He hates Blair, and everything that Blair and Dubbya ever stood for: their lies, their compromises, their filthy, filthy wars. Horovitz rants on about Blair until he is blue in the face. And, after more than 200 pages of the poem, he gives us a further 200-odd pages of dense notes. In spite of the fact that we agree with much of it, it becomes tedious in the extreme to hear him bellowing on at us.
The poem, on the other hand, is much more agreeable, because it has the capacity to reinvent itself. Sometimes it works like good rap lyrics; and, in the loveliest section of all, "A Little Kite Music", it brings over the feel of London workers – all those "underslept worry-frayed faces" – much better, and more convincingly, than Eliot ever did. But he does bang on. Someone needs to say: it's terrible that politicians are such compromised beings, but humans are fundamentally not good, and universal harmony may not be on the agenda for that very reason.
Game of Thrones
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Huawei Mate S and Huawei Watch: new products take on iPhone 6 Plus and Apple Watch
- 2 More than 11,000 Icelanders offer to house Syrian refugees to help European crisis
- 3 If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
- 4 Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
- 5 Make your voice heard: Sign The Independent's petition to welcome refugees
The real reason Eddie Redmayne was cast as a trans woman in The Danish Girl
Idris Elba is ‘too street’ to play 007, says James Bond author
This little boy loves books so much that he cries when his mother stops reading to him
Akram Khan: Choreographer says dance is 'as important as maths and being a doctor'
Idris Elba responds to comments he's 'too street' to play James Bond as 007 author apologises for controversial comment
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up