By John Burnside
Winner of either the T. S. Eliot Prize and the ahead Prize, Black Cat Bone is the 1st American booklet of the poetry of John Burnside.
Before the songs I sang there have been the songsthey got here from, patent shredsof Babel, and the secretNineveh of again rooms at the hours of darkness. Hour after hourthe evening trains blundered throughfrom cities to date away and innocentthat every thing I knew appeared fictional: —from "Death Room Blues"
John Burnside's Black Cat Bone is stuffed with poems of thwarted love and sadness, uncooked wish, the stalking beast. One series tells of an obsessive lover coming to grief in echoes of the outdated homicide ballads, and one other longer poem describes a hunter wasting himself within the woods whereas pursuing an unknown and doubtless unknowable quarry.
Black Cat Bone introduces American readers to at least one of the simplest poets writing around the Atlantic.
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Additional info for Black Cat Bone: Poems
That he wrote it during the Vietnam War only heightens the Poems That Disturb 21 pain of his divided loyalties, which he never tries to resolve. The child of a coal miner, he went on scholarship to an exclusive college and studied with John Crowe Ransom and other stalwarts of New Criticism. He was thus torn between the working-class culture of Martins Ferry, Ohio (just up the river from Wheeling, West Virginia) and the high culture of New Criticism. Although from the first he showed a particular regard for the down and out, his first book also celebrated such high-culture figures as Kathleen Ferrier, who was “enough to keep the ear / Half satisfied forever” and Hugo Wolf, whose grave he visits (Collected 21).
The ever-increasing numbers of defendants seems to indicate his increasing radicalization. Weber Literary Society of LaSalle College as well as Lambda Iota Tau National English Honor Fraternity. The list takes a new turn when he records his membership in Dignity of Philadelphia (the organization for Catholic homosexuals) and Philadelphia Gay Activists’ Alliance, an early gay radical movement. His literary interests develop as he joins The Poet / City Workshop, Some Of Us Press, and Poets & Writers, Inc.
Long as it is, Dlugos’s list could be extended and filled Poems That Disturb 29 in, although there may have been a point at which, like Groucho Marx, he wouldn’t join any club that would accept him. Weber, a brief member of the faculty. But some of the entries are truly perplexing. It took some hunting to find out that the PBL Club was not in any way a policemen’s benevolent organization, and the fan clubs would have been harder to track down without the search engines we now rely on for easy access to such esoteric figures.
Black Cat Bone: Poems by John Burnside