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Thursday, September 03, 2020

Alan Baker's Journal of Enlightened Panic (and the EUOIA poets)

Alan Baker is an important writer, or should be, it seems to me. It was Lee Harwood who first alerted me to his writing. “Baker’s work is both philosophical and lyrical, subtle and powerfully moving, and is beautifully crafted with a striking deployment of narrative voice/s.” says Ian Seed. The existence of a new pamphlet from him is a cause for celebration. It is interesting to see a poem for Harwood in it. Read Clark Allison's online review here. And Simon Collings' here

The Journal of Enlightened Panic (an imaginary journal featured in one of the poems, and picked as a resonant phrase that catches the tone of some of the pieces) is available here and here:

I am also pleased to see the re-appearance here of the collaboration he and I produced as part of my ‘European Union of Imaginary Authors (EUOIA)’ project. As is quite well known by now, I worked with a number of other poets, including Alan, to produce the works of the 28 poets of the EUOIA, all before Brexit. There’s loads and loads on it here and here

It was a multiple and multiply-sustained collaborative experience – and truly a fraternal and communal affair. It taught me a lot, mainly, I think, humility in the face of other people’s ideas. I tended to let the other lead the way, and that was the case with the Slovenian poet Alan and I co-imagined into being, ABC Remič, whose biography is also included in this pamphlet. It is good to see her again, on her own (as it were).

Alan Baker was born and raised in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and has lived in Nottingham since 1985, where he has been publisher of Leafe Press for the last twenty years, and editor of its associated webzine Litter (see the blog roll to the right of this post). Previous poetry collections include Letters from the Underworld (Red Ceilings, 2018) and Riverrun (KFS, 2019).

Here is the endorsement I wrote for Riverrun:

Poets have their rivers – Charlotte Smith has the Arun, Michael Drayton the Ankor – and like these two examples, Alan Baker has picked the sonnet as the vehicle to translate the ever-changing fluvial reality of water at its riverrine transformations into a stop-go sequence, that changes perspective with each fresh look, each new thought. Written at speed, ‘the Trent’, becomes Baker’s ‘mutable, silent, ultimately unreliable frontier’: he can’t keep mute immobile vigilance, like a fisherman, but is plunged into voluble, repeated but variable response. The narrator is quite sincere, though as unreliable as a riverbank; he suffers the impossibility of knowing whether he has been invaded by the river or if he has invented it. It’s both, of course – and these fleet, accurate glimpses of that mutability chart that journey.

That’s a good book, too!

My 14 part exploration ‘Thoughts on Collaboration or Coauthorship’, which includes thoughts on the EUOIA as well as other collaborative works, by myself and others, along with theoretical ideas about collaboration as a practice, may be accessed via links on the first post, here:

 As to the EUOIA, I'm not finished with that or, more specifically, with the notion of fictional poets (and I know Alan has his own too), and my latest thinking is to build upon this recently updated description of the work of the youngest of my 'imaginary authors', one I was alone responsible for, Sophie Poppmeier,  here: