PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
Mark FordLetters And So It Goes
Letters from Young Mr Grace
(aka John Ashbery)

(PN Review 239)
Henry Kingon Toby Martinez de las Rivas
(PN Review 244)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Jamie OsbornIn conversation with Sasha Dugdale
(PN Review 240)
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
OUP PNR 246 Banner
Monthly Carcanet Books
Next Issue Alex Wong embarks on Ausonius's Moselle Christine Blackwell recalls Jonas Mekas Lives of Graves, Trilling and Curnow visited New poems by Lisa Kelly and Jodie Hollander Andy Croft on the 'poetry industry'

This review is taken from PN Review 156, Volume 30 Number 4, March - April 2004.

CREATIVE PATHWAYS BRIAN KEEBLE, Conversing with Paradise (Golgonooza) £25 hb, £14.95 pb
VERNON WATKINS, Poems for Dylan (Gomer) £5.95
WENDELL BERRY, The Gift of Gravity: Selected Poems 1968-2000 (Golgonooza) £9.95

Is it possible to distinguish `mystical' or `visionary' poetry from poetry as such? The passage of Blake's prose from which Brian Keeble takes his title suggests that it may not be. `Poetry, Painting, and Music,' Blake wrote, are `the three Powers in Man of conversing with Paradise, which the flood did not Sweep away.' Blake certainly did not believe that everything in verse or on canvas had spiritual value. But his remark implies that when the arts are doing their proper job, they act as pathways for creator and audience alike to a profound reality - call it `timeless' or `unfallen', `divine' or `archetypal' according to your chosen vocabulary - which transcends the world of our mundane, utilitarian concerns.

Evidently it is, from one point of view, a matter of emphasis. Just as one's mood may be lifted by an unexpected glimpse of beauty or human insight in the midst of the most tedious daily business, so any poet worth the name will on occasion produce a line or stanza of some profundity, refreshing our perceptions and changing our relationship to ourselves and our experience. Certain poets, however, consistently direct attention to the relationship between observed reality and ontological depth in a way that implies ethical as well as aesthetic values, and explicitly take ultimate questions of being, purpose and consciousness as their themes.

One clear intention of Conversing with Paradise is to advocate and interpret such poetry, as well as to give a view ...


Searching, please wait... animated waiting image