Tuesday, March 19, 2019

My REF statement describing my Veer volume UNFINISH


I may be retired from Edge Hill but they can still submit my publications from my period of employment in the (mostly-dreaded) REF process. Part of the process for those entering creative writing involves the writing of a 300 word introduction to the work. That’s four out of the five. I thought I’d put them on my blog. I don’t think I’ve perjured myself.
But for Unfinish, these be the words; I’m not offering them as a model, but they might help somebody write their own. It might also – in this context – draw people’s attention to the book, persuade them to buy it, even. It’s one of my least-noticed books, but one of my favourites. This is what I say:

Unfinish. London: Veer Publications, 2015
Unfinish is an attempt, in 7 prose pieces, in different styles, to test out some of the following theses, and to produce a variety of experimental forms in response to some of the axioms printed at the beginning of the miscellany: ‘Interruption is one of the fundamental devices of all structuring’ (Walter Benjamin). A poetics piece, in the form of a letter to the poet Sean Bonney, is an instrument of interruptions. As such it illustrates another of the axioms, ‘The main thing is how to think crudely’ (Brecht), but in its developed poetics it relates to one of the best definitions of poetics: ‘His judgement was always anchored in poetry, or in the very subtle thinking that surrounds it. (Alain Badiou on Mandelstam). This collection of contrasts also contains a writing-through of TASS photographs of Soviet history which attempts a surreal history of that social experiment, interwoven with a ghostly narrative of espionage; a performance piece in two parts (a conventional story and a fantasia upon its theme); and a piece of psychogeographical prose, ‘In Unadopted Space’, that relates to another two of the axioms: ‘Space is a part of our mental life’ (Roy Fisher) and ‘Space is as much a challenge as is time. Neither space nor place can provide a haven from the world.’ (Doreen Massey) Varieties of montage, de-montage, with interruption as structure, with transformation and transposition, formal resistance, creative linkage, ‘imperfect fit’, near-perfect fit, contribute to create all kinds of multi-form unfinish, to use the deliberate title of the book. As another of the quotations states: ‘As Picasso said about unfinish, alive and dangerous… I have a taste for unfinish. It’s one of the ways I want to live my life and art.’ (Ronald Kitaj)

The two axioms I don’t quote are:

We listen to silence. We listen to fictitious music in our head. Think music. (Ralf Hutter)    
But for what we believe most we don’t have art at all. (Kenneth Koch);

I couldn’t quite see how to work them in! But what's not to like?   
Buy Unfinish  here and read more of the text.
I write more about it here:

and I have another set of axioms that didn’t end up in the book here:

Access the other REF statements on my 2014-2017 output via links accompanying the first one here: