Monthly Archives: February 2017

Modernist reading group: Bryher

After H.D last time, it makes sense to talk Bryher this week – her long-term partner. She’s really fascinating but very little known. If you have a chance to read her memoir The Heart to Artemis then I’d really recommend it. A great piece of travel writing, as well as a good history of the first few decades of the 20th century and exploration of Freud and psychoanalysis.

I found this poem in a Transition anthology in Shakespeare & Company when I went to Paris in 2014 and I absolutely love it.


If I am a needle on a disk,

got to play the record out,

got to go on,

whatever voices break across me

or what shadows,

knees or shoulders,

silverpoint the blackness;

got to play the record out

til I break or am lifted,

I don’t choose the sound I make,

you don’t choose the groove.


No good saying,

take a knife and cut me from the past.

If I am a needle on a disk,

I’m not the new record

nor the old silence.

There is nowhere that we join together


And it’s not your job to lift me at the finish.


Isn’t it lush?

Have a think about the use of the body, new technology, and who the poetic voice is addressing.


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Online modernist reading group: H.D

This fortnight we’ll be looking at H.D or Hilda Doolittle.

H.D was one of the original ‘imagist’ poems, as well as the author of the extraordinary novel Hermione. She called her daughter Perdita, fittingly.

Her memoir of Freud, A Tribute to Freud, is also well worth your time.

But today we’re looking at her poems, a selection of which are available online. I’d encourage you to browse around although would add that Apollo at Delphi is a favourite of mine.

Things to think about? H.D is an imagiste. That means trying to eschew techniques like metaphor or simile, to write the image of the thing. How does this affect the poetry? What do you think of it? Does she succeed?


You can read about the modernist women of Paris in my new book, available for Kindle.

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