Why is Modern Poetry Difficult? Talk by Professor Geoff Ward
In this lecture at Madingley Hall, Professor Geoff Ward tries to get to the source of the discomfort that many readers experience in their encounters with modern poetry. He asks whether schools are to blame for instilling a fear of poetry, or whether poetry itself has taken any wrong turnings following the innovations of T S Eliot, the Surrealists, and others. In this critical but also autobiographical account, he takes us on a journey at whose end the difficulty of poetry is shown to be not so much a mountain to climb, as a pleasure to be enjoyed.
Professor Geoffrey Ward PhD FRSA has been Principal of Homerton College, University of Cambridge since 2013, prior to which he worked as Vice Principal and Professor of English and Creative Writing at Royal Holloway, University of London.
By: Geoff Ward
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Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-942146-28-5
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-942146-29-2
eBook ISBN: 978-1-942146-30-8
Ebook: $9.99 (also available through Amazon Kindle Unlimited)
You’re Not Dead is a darkly comic fantasy, with elements of romance. The hero Miles Proctor is a young college lecturer, on the trail of the last remaining copy of a notorious Victorian book. Transmutations: The Book of Magic is an occult treatise, which claims to be not merely about Magic, but about how to perform spells and become adept at enchantment.
A series of hilarious accidents takes Miles to New York, California and Death Valley before he finally locates it. By this time he has begun a romance with Becky Morrell, bookseller and co-traveller. On reading the book Miles finds that it has the property of changing its words, each time it is read. He develops his own occult skills, including the ability to alter events, and to travel to the destinations pictured in photographs by focussing on the photograph.
However a presence from beyond, a murderous (if comic) Glaswegian gangster trapped in limbo, begins to invade his consciousness in search of the book as a means to escaping his own twilight zone. Miles’ adventures lead him back into the past and the mysteries of his father’s double life. Miles has joined a coven of magicians in London who discover that he is working more for himself than for the benefit of their capers, which include the quest for an ancient amulet with the power to buy time, but even as they attempt revenge the group comes explosively apart. Weighing in on Miles’ side are a number of supernatural presences, including the ghost of legendary bluesman Robert Johnson.
The novel ends with a marriage, though whether Miles will pursue a career in the everyday or magical worlds is left tantalizingly open to interpretation. Hardcover, paperback and ebook are available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
“Geoff Ward’s glitteringly funny and scary novel sends his hero Miles on a wild pursuit, through this world and the next, of one of only three known copies of the rarest book in existence. Like the object of his obsessive quest, You’re Not Dead is both supreme fiction and grail, a one-off exemplar of a lost original.” – John Ashbery, Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, the National Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award
You’re Not Dead is one of the most original novels I have read in recent years. My favorite lines in the book are: “Am I so very different, after all? I believe in magic, yes. I believe in magic because I want to. I believe in magic because magic works. Most of all I believe in magic because the world is magic anyway.” A brilliant, magical, page turner.
About Geoff Ward
Geoff Ward has taught and published on English and American literature in Europe, the USA and Japan. He has written the first study of the New York School of Poets, Statutes of Liberty (1993/2001) among other books and essays.
A Life Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, he has written and presented documentaries on American writers for BBC Radio, and has published several collections of poetry, including Worry Dream (2013). He is currently Principal of Homerton College, University of Cambridge.
You’re Not Dead is his first novel, and the first in a series. It builds on a lifetime’s enthusiasm for fantasy and other forms of genre fiction, explored with the aim to entertain, but also to raise serious questions about time, memory and whether what we see – in life, as well as in the mirror – is what is really there. Hardcover and paperback available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.