Friday, September 5, 2008

"women as tender" Humphrey Astley

At Lulu you can buy or download this book for free here.

Here's a review

The most striking thing about Humphrey Astley's new collection of poems is that the young whippersnapper is evidently writing just poems. Identifiably so, where words are treated like a rare and antique coinage, working out the histrionic mysteries of naming, where they denote poetically, detonate semantically, and alert the reader to beauty, whatever that is. The verbal content is phenomenally well-handled, people say that they hone poems a long time. Generally speaking one wonders why, Humphrey however does the same thing and does it to good purpose. His works do what other poems purport to do. I quote briefly a brief one about Trakl

He bore witness to the accident,
and at stretchers, breathing gunpowder,
soiled his artist’s hands
tending wounds delivered by no god.

Saint Georg of the Hoary Ordure!
Born with glass eyes, glass eyelids, too;
poet-apothecary, dead at twenty-seven,
the age of man.

And that's it. In its entirety. The man who didn't dare cash the huge Wittgensteinian check perfectly captured.

The title is a reference, I suppose, to the place of pussy as a token of exchange in a poetic economy that is marked male, remarquably so. The inappropriately propriative Leonardo eye that functions, however, properly in arrogating to itself its poetic property. The psyche, Psyche, (a young lady) its self. Other meanings of tender are objectionable. “I want warmth and tenderness” she said, in a Swedish joke. “Ok,” he replied, vigorously driving her face into a radiator.

Who are the happy, and what the fuck is
their problem?
This is how we assemble: shared aversions
stirred together. But this is no life,
sat here
on a punctuation mark

Briefly, Humphrey's poems are metaphysical in the old literary sense, the best sense. They are also exquisitely worked through, often very beautiful. I am probably wholly wrong in assessing their intent, but what the fuck, you pays your money and you takes your choice. In fact, at Lulu you takes your choice whether or not to pay, it's a free download or a real book, for legal tender, here. Maybe you could get a few copies for a good woman.