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This article is taken from PN Review 202, Volume 38 Number 2, November - December 2011.

The Hang of Song: Arctic Monkeys and Clare Pollard Adrian May
ARCTIC MONKEYS, Suck It and See (Domino Recordings) £10
CLARE POLLARD, Changeling (Bloodaxe Books) £8.95

The borders between song and poetry are often argued over, even if historically and at some deeper level they do not really exist. In 'The Music of Poetry' (1942), T.S. Eliot insists that this music is not merely rhythm or metre, but also 'is not something that exists apart from the meaning'. If the music and the meaning are one, then the song aspect of poetry is not easily dismissed, nor vice versa, as it is such a primal aspect of the energy of both. When, in the same essay, Eliot outlines the tendency of poetry to need to return towards common speech and to form, we might be reminded of two things popular song takes for granted, establishing a further connection. Comparing a poet and a songwriter who show and work against some of these connections might then be fruitful, especially when they also seem concerned, as Eliot confesses he is, with what you can do with your talent and promise, with trying 'to formulate' what you want 'to write'.

I don't know if there is such a thing as fourth album/collection syndrome, but all that is subsequent to early promise risks dashing expectations. Metaphorically we participate in this myth, whereby we hope the artist might model our own promise and hope. Arctic Monkeys' fourth album has been eagerly searched by critics for a prodigal return to the early form ...


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