Monday, November 09, 2009

Introducing Steve Van-Hagen

I was appointed at Edge Hill in 2006, having previously taught at The International Study Centre, Herstmonceux Castle (Queen’s University, Canada, in the U. K.), the University of Kent, and Canterbury Christ Church University. I have taught most periods and genres within English and American literature, but have tended to specialise in eighteenth-century literature, Renaissance drama (especially Shakespeare), and modernism and post-modernism.

My edition of selections from Woodhouse’s The Life and Lucubrations of Crispinus Scriblerus was published in 2005 (Cheltenham: The Cyder Press) and I have recently completed a book entitled The Poetry of Mary Leapor for the Focus On series published by Greenwich Exchange Press. I am currently writing an article for The Literature Compass on the life, career and reception of James Woodhouse, as well as writing The Student Guide to Jonathan Swift for Greenwich Exchange. I am also researching a critical biography of Woodhouse.

My other interests include literary representations of obsessive-compulsive disorders (and particularly in the work of the American novelist Chuck Palahniuk), and the life and career of the American eco-anarchist Edward Abbey.

Poems have appeared in a number of magazines (see links at the end of this post)

Die Sönne Scheint Noch(with thanks to Jason Whittaker)


Barbarians are coming, they sing, crawling
from the East. He wears a leather skirt East
European hat, metal cross
draped over his bare chest. Aryan, Wagnerian
ice maidens who study postgraduate
English in their spare time sing
harmonies wearing black vests, blonde
pigtails tumbling from their fezes. Banners
depict a thick cross within a cog though no
White Rose. Seeming swastikas that know not
seems adorn album covers passed round, sleeve
notes by Žižek, film projectors
beam streams of images. The crowd
chant in tandem “Tanz
mit Laibach”, singing of American
friends and German comrades dancing
in Baghdad.


Most likely this was not what
Sophie and Hans and Christoph went
to the steel blade for but you never know
what you’re living or dying for till
later as they’ve told Tomasz as
they look down, unlike him, bemused. Dropping leaflets
from University stairs can be for some
what a concert and exhibition at the House
of the Workers is for others. It is many years
since the threesome took that last
unprecedented cigarette, but Sophie is a nation’s
heroine. At least the website says
Tomasz’s influence lives on.


Outside in the Trbovlje evening, where Tomasz
ended twenty three years before, the audience files
out, waves passports in the air that helped some
escape Sarajevo. The Kum mountain lodge houses
some as the NSK philosopher declaims, and they drink
Laibach wine, deep into tomorrow until

the sun comes up.

Der Papierene
the streets of Favoriten are quiet
now, a suburb of a city
of shadows, secrets, whispers, though they
weren’t quiet that day in January ’39
when they laid you to rest some say
twenty thousand thronged the streets

whisperers whisper still
about you; you were a jew, a
nazi, a gambler, when you were found
with Camilla in the Anagasse
they whispered too: you were
murdered, committed suicide, Camilla
killed you, politics
killed you

there is no memorial, even the cafe
you bought from Drill is gone,
demolished, “they did not want it there
as a reminder of him”, they told me,
when I asked

I look for you, I find you only
in the memories of the reunification
derby, the pride of
Osterreich, not Ostmark, waltzing
around grinning before the box
full of dignitaries, at full time

grainy images on You Tube
narrated in Spanish
are the only sight I find but
it is not a bad epitaph: “the new club
president has forbidden us to talk
to you, but I will always
speak to you, Herr Doktor.”

Emily warned me it would be like this
There is only one truly philosophical problem
wrote Albert, a problem I solved
one winter’s afternoon

At the last there was the little
not so much
the King in the room
as the mundane in the gloom

It ended
not so much with a whimper
as with an unavoidable bang
or two, on the head

As fumes swirled, the thoughts:
did I feed the cat?
did I turn on the gas (enough)?

the taciturnity of amorous encountersi don’t bring you flowers

we meet in hotels

i don’t bring you chocolates

we mouth neither hellos nor farewells

we pass the same anonymous receptionists and bellboys

this month room twenty six next month ninety four

after, i trace the outline of your nose

in my mind as you lie

face up turned away on sweat-soaked sheets

perhaps one day we might speak

Links to poetry: