Iain Cameron's Diary
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2005-09-30 - 7:38 a.m.

I am developing a taste for classic French cheese, bread and red wine. This is not especially helpful from a weight-management point of view.

I bought the Ted Hughes Collected Poems - well over a thousand pages of poetry. It’s the easiest and cheapest way to get at the 11 poems which Hughes didn’t publish in the Birthday Letters but published in an expensive limited edition alongside under the title Howls and Whispers. One of these poems is entitled Minotaur 2 which sets out the idea that as Plath followed her own artistic inclinations apart from Hughes she followed the thread to the centre of the labyrinth where she met the Minotaur who had been planning all along to kill her. From the point of view of sustainable creativity the metaphor suggests that you need to know the difference between up and down - or in and out.

Within this poem Hughes refers to cripples - and also to seeing himself as a character in someone else’s narrative. This seems to be a reference to a Spring 62 poem by Plath which includes the lines - the dark is melting we touch like cripples. This is a poem which is in the last 4 that I have set this month - and it uses a fairly adventurous track sourced from a BBC CD of diaries of ordinary people in WW2. Perhaps Hughes is suggesting that this poem is that start of Plath’s artistic maturity.

I have a compendium of Plath criticism - and beyond the famous pieces which have been formed in a call and response pattern - there is a lot of more adventurous criticism outside the narrative selves of Hughes and Plath. The situation we face here is the opposite of the one which obtains with Shakespeare’s Sonnets where we hardly know who is who or what the history is - although we still try to make sense of the poetry. But I would say that the non-narrative criticism is quite as important as the bio-narrative interpretation.

The imagery which I have put against the Plath poem referred to in the Minotaur is not at all from what we usually think of Hughes-Plath world - Cambridge, Boston, Devon, West Yorkshire - it is much later and it is very urban - about contemporary collective recreation - so there is a sense in which the AV deliberately pushes the words into another context. I suppose you could see this as a taste of the poem - which after all is supposed to be an exceptionally good one. Does it still read when it is surrounded by imagery and sounds which push away from the familiar context?

The latest poem is Poppies in November - which is short while the music is longer and hetrogenous. It includes a sample from Ms K Carpenter - one could see this as a bit lazy? Or maybe you could say its another way of pushing a bio-narrative interpretation. There is also an individual who might be the lyric subject - the AV asks you to imagine that the poetry is from a different lyric identity with a different bio-narrative.

Yesterday afternoon I went to meet Steve at the Starbucks in the Sainsbury’s to the south of Leamington. I took an e-stick with the Learning Grid Data Strategy Context and Background paper plus the questionnaire for use at the Greenpower finals at Goodwood in the middle of October. We agreed that the questionnaire gets round the problem of biasing attitude assessment by general words which invoke the negative attitudes we are trying to overcome.

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