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If From the Distance: Two Essays

Published by Menard Press

ISBN: 9781874320586

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Menard Press is honoured to publish here two fine and contrasting essays - one centrifugal, the other centripetal - by Christopher Middleton, this singular figure who (along with Roy Fisher) is the most significant British poet to be found on that important frontier between the mainstream and the experimental, flinging out messages in bottles into a sea of unknowing.

The novelist, poet and critic Alan Wall has contributed an introduction, at once critique and homage: "Middleton is never knowingly ignorant of modernity, and the modernity of his poetic style reflects that astuteness. As an essayist, he has always seemed to me to be intellectually omnivorous and invariably exhilarating. Part of the exhilaration comes from his refusal to totalise what cannot or should not be totalised.

If the reality of the phenomenon he is observing is one of fragmentation, then Middleton leaves it thus, respecting its condition, rather than sentimentalising the broken reality into a spurious whole. In a sense his first essay here is a meditation on that theme. Insisting that fragments must always make a whole is a species of intellectual kitsch. It is a refusal to acknowledge the immense contingency of modern life. Amidst such contingency, it is the task of the poet to identify authenticity, and
continue to shape it."
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