Critical Comment

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Robert Sheppard:  ‘an irritant to our complacency’

There are two systems of meaning at play in Glimpses of Notes. There is the voice that button-holes us, telling us a life-story, like the Ancient Mariner, offering its opinions and pointing towards footnotes to historicize itself. It is a voice that is an irritant to our complacency, and it tests our tolerance. The other meaning is for our eyes. Beneath what we read there is a wild meaning, dwelling in the shapes, spacing and splicing of words and, of course, in their colours. Sometimes it counterpoints the life-story told here; sometimes it resists it with a precision of its own, a life of its own. I invite you to read this double-life.

Idris Caffrey: ‘I found the book impossible to put down’

Few poets would be brave enough to attempt what Alan Corkish has done in Glimpses of Notes, an autobiography in a very different format to what readers will be used to. Touching, warm, intelligent, humorous and yet critical and opinionated. It hooked me. I found the book impossible to put down until I reached the end… and then I started to read it all over again.

Sam Smith: ‘These pages bite.’

Given the cast of characters, vernacular accurately rendered, those who formed Alan Corkish's character are lyrically not that far removed from those in Milkwood. A Milkwood here, however, with no romantic/macho illusions about the intake of alcohol; nor the perpetuation of respectable/acceptable politics. Quaint 'Glimpses' aint. Consequences are explored and lived with, endured. These pages bite. He says that a book that isn't worth burning is not worth reading. Go pore over Glimpses of Notes by candlelight in a puddle of petrol.

Duane Locke: ‘a poetically meaningful referential song.’

There is much to praise in Corkish's extraordinary autobiographical poem but I will single out his inventive prosody; it is the prosody of typographical music. Especially notable is his letter shading, from blacks to greys that co-exist with varied fonts, white spaces, and an abundance of other material devices. The pages not only excite with their visual impact, but his visual materiality becomes communicative, functions as a chorus to expand meaning beyond the literality of the words, and produce a poetically meaningful referential song.

L. Ward Abel: a ‘brilliant conjurer of honesty and whimsy’

The voice of Alan Corkish in this epic tempts us towards a threshold of self-discovery through which we accompany this brilliant conjurer of honesty and whimsy onward to his new world of strange words. His structural approach to poetry is unique but has the power of Joyce's introspection. Through the anti-climax of Post War Britain, and despite poverty, illness and demons, Mr. Corkish emerges as a hero in this autobiography: stronger for the battle, a weary but eloquent dreamer. This is a truly important work.

Jean Hull Herman: ‘He crosses the borders that define auditory and visual poetry.’

Alan Corkish's work embodies totally new techniques in a revolutionary new poetic form. He offers options. He crosses the borders that define auditory and visual poetry. The technology used to present information is never neutral: words leap as fast as thoughts. Alan's stance seems to shout at you that we still need poetry, even if it isn't in the 'populist' mode of the moment. I'm not anywhere near the margins of the page or the world. Everything old is new again - this 'telling' was good enough for the people in the beginning: how can any listener be surprised that hardwired auditory perception has survived? The tension between the language and the layout is refreshingly illuminating. A totally new and exciting poetry, a major innovative work of art.

Luis Benítez: ‘I want to have written this poem.’

Set in the landscape of the new British poetry, this work startles the reader with its strong passion for words and its concise construction of verses and pauses. With this autobiographical poem, Corkish (a poet I have long admired) confirms not only his talent, but also his skill and mastery of technique for to make poetry with his life, and to infuse life into every verse of this long work is sheer artistry. A work to read and re-read and the more I read it the more I like it! Really, a masterpiece! As both a reader and a poet, I say: 'I want to have lived this life, I want to have written this poem.

Helen Kitson: ‘A fine achievement’

An autobiography in verse might sound like a grim, solipsistic affair. It is to Alan Corkish's credit that he has brought it off rather magnificently - with humour and an awareness of the world around him. Indeed, the footnotes explaining significant world events provide a context and framework - footnotes can be irritating, but in this poem they are surprisingly touching and enrich the narrative. A fine achievement from 'the-people's-poet'.

Lorette C. Luzajic: ‘At turns violent, sad, erotic, triumphant, funny…’

If it happened, it happened to Alan Corkish. Beginning with his entrance into the world in a small fishing town at the same time as Hiroshima was being torn apart by an atomic bomb, the poet's autobiographical recordings observe world historical events from one man's view. And this man observes everything; witches, aliens, political corruption, philosophy, serial killers, nothing escapes Corkish's intense scrutiny. In this unfinished symphony of a life, with recollections firmly planted in the backdrop of history, Corkish re-educates us in the events we have forgotten by weaving the news bulletins into the poetry of human emotions and conflicts. At turns violent, sad, erotic, triumphant, funny… Glimpses of Notes recalls history as if it had a soul.

Anil K Prasad: ‘A poet of immense erudition’

Alan Corkish's Glimpse of Notes is a brilliant synthesis of imagination, reason and orthographic exploitation which amalgamates into a unique lyricism. His rhythm and idiom is put into appropriate and sometimes shocking structural variations which accentuate the poetic potentialities of the English language., Corkish knows his craft well and never indulges in sentimentality. His poetic paintings of epic span and depth are enthralling. Glimpses is everyman's 'record of which I am.' The semantic universe of the poem lies not only in the lines but also between the lines - ironically compressed, carefully carved, painted, and performed through words which dance and make the reader dream of a past when 'steel fibres/ screaming of/gulls and winches/glimpses of notes/' echo in the corridors of time. Superb creativity, a rhythmic creation of beauty through the use of technology which makes the words 'speak' to the reader. The poem urges the reader to go on and on reading, reflecting and re-evaluating the words which reverberate like the ripples created in the quiet space of unconsciousness.

Rupert Loydell: ‘his best work yet.’

Dried blood, oxygen blindness, days of quiet gladness... In Alan Corkish's autobiographical sequence, the everyday mess of life is the essence. Language and lines tip this way and that in disingenuous chaos that is both bewildering and entrancing. This is real life, all the past remixed, remoulded, intriguingly realised.

Corkish can at times be boorish, pigheaded and argumentative, but here he has stayed focussed and persistent, producing his best work yet.

Anthony Delgrado: ‘well written, original looking,’

In Glimpses of Notes, Alan Corkish does, what he always does and follows a path that may be unlikely, will probably lose a few people as it gets tricky, and could do with a touch of tarmac to smooth the ride, but is very much his own and if you don't like it that is your problem.
Glimpses is what I always expect from Alan, it is well written, original looking, a more-than-interesting idea and comes from a slightly off-key angle that catches you in a blind spot before you notice it hurtling toward you. In summary, Glimpses of Corkish can be bad for your wing mirrors.

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