Home theTexts currently featured on the site


Simon Marsh & Peter Hughes


Simon Marsh is a poet, musician, teacher and translator. He has lived and worked in Italy for over 30 years, after spending 25 of them in Milan, he moved to Valverde in the Oltrepò Pavese. For the last eight years or so, he has lived in Varzi. His published works of poetry include The Ice Glossaries, The Vinyl Hat Years, The Pistol Tree Poems (with Peter Hughes), and Stanze. Stanze has been translated into Italian by Riccardo Duranti and published by Coazinzola Press.

Peter Hughes is a poet, painter, teacher and the founding editor of Oystercatcher Press. He worked in Italy for several years, then on the Norfolk coast and is currently based in Cambridge. He was recently the Judith E. Wilson Visiting Fellow in Poetry at Cambridge University. His books include a Selected Poems, innovative versions of all Petrarch's sonnets (Quite Frankly, Reality Street Editions, 2015), Cavalcanty (Carcanet, 2017) and via Leopardi 21 (Equipage, 2018). Great Works also hosts his short sequence, Oystercatcher.

Peter Philpott

Wound Scar Memories

This book is composed of three linked sequences of poems, and a lump of prose. It started from a visit while on holiday to La-Fontaine-de-Vaucluse — famed as the most well-known residence of Petrarch, and also the type of the hydrological marvel that is a Vauclusean spring. It's a funny little French tourist trap, with the pretty little river Sorgue rising and running through it, even in the unusually dry August we visited, when the mighty fountain resembled more a giant toilet bowl with chemical blue water at the bottom than an inspiring and throbbing wellspring. The inital sequence, "Fragments of Vulgar Things", matched my enjoyment of the wondrous Tim Atkins and Peter Hughes versions of Petrarch against the reality of visiting the place where the great ur-sonnet sequence was set under way, which Western European poetry has been dealing with ever since.

The second sequence, "Action in the Play Zone", got fed up with such easy jokiness — it went to the bones of he things. Sonnets basically are about the relationships between pronouns, and so is this sequence. Chilly and wintry as a result. As a result, the third sequence desperately wanted a little human life, and got dead voices instead (though all very cheery like). "Hedge of Utterance" is an interrogation of the Dark ages for what they can tell us about now. I think lots. I enjoy them greatly. We need to embrace radical cultural change together again. Lessons can be learned — though they may seem pretty obscure. A long prose section, "Not a Note on Some Matters with Britain", tries to explain thse apparent obscurities. And each of the poetic sequences has a dizzying blast of wild or untamed language, and a nifty example of the use of giant braces also.

"Fragments of Vulgar Things" is available online on Intercapillary Space. The other texts are not, except for the number 8s in each sequence (plus the appropiate prose paragraphs), which are available here. In addition, Great Works hosts mp3s of me reading "Fragments of Vulgar Things" and "Hedge of Utterance". "Not a Note on Some Matters with Britain" can moreover also be accessed on academia.edu as A Note On Some Matters with Britain, and it has further a full annotated bibliography online here.

Telling the Beads

Telling the Beads: A Spiritual Year Book for Our Times was inspired by Brecht's Die Hauspostille (Amos Weisz's translation I have come to know well. Only version in print is Eric Bentley's translation for Grove, as Manual of Piety). This was Brecht's beautiful and savage appropriation and transformation of a German tradition (both Catholic and Lutheran) of a book of homilies for home readings and devotions. There's all sorts of stuff in it, including the Mahagonny Songs. I've tied in my text more than Brecht did to the notion of an annual cycle, by using (yes, still stuck in the Dark Ages), Bede's account of the Anglo-Saxon calendar in De temporum ratione. Bede's statements about Old English paganism are sometimes queried, as they don't fit very well with all the Woden and Thor Warrior!!! stuff. I'm with Bill Griffiths, that all that crap was just upper-class ideology to keep structures of power strong and stable. What the population actually followed in their daily lives would have been different. You can explore my very incorrect and anomalous version of this — but the cakes and the goddesses are all from the Venerable One! so mock not too much. The text is not online, but you can read more about here.

The sequence is available as a calendrical serial download consisting of a pdf of each initial month's poem, on the first of the month (a little later for January), and with individual texts for all the holy days and the days of the two major festivals (Yule, of course, and Lithe, or Midsummer). It goes without saying, only religious experts such as myself can calculate this calendar (the source of our vast power and prestige), so you'll just have to be surprised when they turn up. And that's it — a series of emails with attached pdfs and the subject line "Telling the Beads". Email me on peter@greatworks.org.uk (or either of my other email addresses if you know them), or FaceBook me, or any other means of communication you wish, and you shall receive it! The text should be regarded as the beta version — it will only have been completed less than two weeks before July 1, and debugging will have to carry on for some time still.

The third month, "Holy Month", will be available online on e·ratio from July 1.

How Dawit Isaak Lives

In writing this poem I wanted to avoid my own personality as much as possible, and write something impersonal (but not inhuman) and direct. I wanted language that explained itself as much as possible, and could, indeed, be easily translated. Hence the use of repetition with some variation.I feel over-awed by the horrifying treatment this brave man, doing his best for his country, has been subjected to. There are references which require more knowledge of Dawit Isaak, and Eritrea than can easily be assumed: that's inescapable in deeaing with a specific person in a specific place. I decided to approach the poem as an ode, like a Pindaric Olympic Victory Ode (but cutting the crap) — hence the structure of two differing voices (strophe/antistrophe, in this poem repeated, resolved finally in a brief epode. The voices allowed in some consciousness of language: the free language of debate: democratic, journalistic, multilingual (the regime seems to insist rigidly on the language of the largest language group, Tigrinya), the language of comrades discussing the future together. I list the names of the publications with journalists imprisoned as a result of G-15 Letter. The other list is, in the sequence they are used in the document the various Eritrean words employed in the horrifying UNHRC Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea, which relate to the regime and its practices. It's a disgusting vocabulary.

Eritrea and the Imprisonment of Dawit Isaak gives my account of Eritrea, its long and heroic fight for freedom from Ethiopia, and the hole it has been led into by its leadership. Dawit Isaak published material opposing the direction the regime was taking; hence his imprisonment. I don't see claims of historical rule by Ethiopian emperors, dating back centuries, are relevant for today's world. Imperialism is always wrong! A new identity was created within the region colonised by the Italians (and briefly administered by us, don't forget!) — an indentity confirmed by the people's treatment by Ethiopia. Long live Eritrea! May it recover its original revolutionary spirit of hope and comradeship! Free Dawit Isaak! (And all the rest!)

Calum Hazell

even the milk

Calum Hazell's poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Jungftak: a journal for prose-poetry, Lunar Poetry and Datableed. In February 2016 he exhibited visual work at St. John's College, University of Oxford, as part of a project on Charles Sanders Peirce's semiotic. He regularly reads at Writers Forum Workshop — New Series and is a member of the Centre for Contemporary Poetry (Contempo) research group. He can be contacted via calumhazell2009@live.co.uk.

Amos Weisz

• Non Juan

Non Juan is one of Amos's finest achievements — he carries it off with appropriate bravado and humour, and no whimsy. It moves from a version of his autobiography to evocations of Berlin low life, tailing off rather, and stopped rather than finished. Amos's talent was not in structure, but in detail and fine grain effects. On the site are the opening of Non Juan in Worksongs, and a possible ending to Part II part only in Worksongs, which ends up in German.

To my daughter & Adonis both in Worksongs

• Make Shift Press

Make Shift or Makeshift Press was a project of Amos's round about 2006, after a visit to India indicated the possibility of cheap printing and book production, and at a period when he had very sympathetic treatment from Haringay Mental Health. It was to publish poetry by people with mental illness, as poetry, not therapy or witness or survival manual. Only one book seems to have been produced, woss teh damage, djinn?, a short collection of prose and poetry by Amos, some of which is very raw fantasy. It doesn't seem to have been distributed. MSS by other people were in a state of preparation at the time of his death. I've published here two accounts by him of the project, in interestingly differing voices: Prospectus for Makeshift Press in Worksongs, which he had entitled "programmatic apology for the existence, dissemination and production of mad poetry", and the more bread-&-butter Article for Equilibrium, written for a magazine for people with mental health conditions.

The End of Mourning in Worksongs

This is a very short, quite lyrical prose piece.

of mutabilitie

Will Self was indeed a class-mate and friend of Amos's at University College School — Amos's father was the Hebraic scholar Joseph Weiss, author of Studies in East European Jewish Mysticism and Hasidism, and Director of the Institute of Jewish Studies at University College London, who committed suicide while Amos was a child. Erna Weiss is rather scathing of Self — a bad influence I think she feels. The emphases given to certain words relate to Amos's interest in hypertext, and a project of his to put his writing online with working links. The text was one of the last written before his death.

tinfoot in Worksongs

This was almost certainly the last poem written by Amos before his suicide.

Amos Weisz translating Sascha Anderson, Jewish Jetset

Sascha Anderson was a poet and cultural organiser, who helped create the underground Prenzlauer Berg artistic scene in East Berlin in the 1980s, based on a self-publishing post-punk aesthetic. He defected to the West in 1986 — but was revealed by Wolf Biermann in 1991 as an active agent of the Stasi even as he set up this alternative art scene. Anderson's "autobiographical novel", Sascha Anderson (Dumont, 2002) admits with neither guilt nor shame, but nearer self-justification. Other books include Jeder Satellit hat einen Killersatelliten: Gedichte 1971-1981 (Edition qwert zui opü, 1997) & Jewish Jetset (Editon Galrev, 1991). (February 2010)

Amos Weisz translating Johannes Jansen, Ditch of fragments/Registrations II

Johannes Jansen first trained as an engraver and then studied advertising art. His very short prose texts have a somnambulant quality and are influenced by Georg Trakl and Wolfgang Borchert. Perception and reflection are inseparable in these works. In 1996, Jansen was awarded the Carinthia Prize at the Ingeborg Bachmann Competition for Dickicht.Anpassung. In 1997, he received the Schiller Foundation award. Jansen's latest works are atem holen, immerhin (2007, Karin Kramer Verlag), Nicht hin..s.eh.en, Sequenzen (2007, Satyr Verlag) and im keinland is schönerland stumm (kookbooks 2007) [Text from poesiefestival.] (February 2010)

Amos Weisz translating Monika Rinck, six poems

Monika Rinck is a poet and essayist, a member of the action group 'Das Lemma', and an actress in the fictional docu-soap Le Pingpong d'Amour. Her work includes fumbling with matches: Herumfingern an Gleichgesinnten (SuKuLTuR, 2005), Verz├╝ckte Distanzen: Gedichte (Zu Klampen, 2004), Begriffsstudio 1996-2001 (edition sutstein, 2001), and Neues von der Phasenfront (b_books, 1998). She currently works for INFORADIO in Berlin and teaches at the Religious Studies Department of the Free University Berlin. She also translates English and American poetry into German. She has work available online on Poetry International Web (with translation), her internet-based work in progress begriffstudio and on neuedichte.de, and can be heard reading her work (with texts & translations of the texts by Alistair Noon also available) on Lyrikline. Translations of her poetry have also been published in Shearsman. I would like to thank Monika for her help in getting these translations published. (February 2010)

Amos Weisz translating Paul Celan (from Lichtzwang)

"Hörreste, Sehreste", "Ihn ritt de Nacht", "Muschelhaufen", "Tretminen", "Todtnauberg". "Tretminen" was used as the epigraph to Worksongs, an excellent choice. Todtnauberg was the location of Heidegger's chalet in the Black Forest, where Celan visited him in 1966, the poem giving Celan's response to the meeting. The whole sequence was written while Celan was under or recovering from psychiatric care (a situation Amos knew well). Erna Weiss, his mother, thinks it important that Amos's father, the scholar Joseph Weiss, was, like Celan, a German-speaking (not Yiddish-speaking) Jew from the Bukovina, the intensely culturally mixed province at the end of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, "beyond Transylvania", and they would have spoken a similar German. [I have added in April 2020 the texts of the other poems from Lichtzwang I read at A Reading in Memory of Paul Celan organised by Rob Stanton on April 20, under The Lockdown via Zoom, and available in full on the Chax Press YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gvqnRU-b3x4&t=93s.]

Amos Weisz translating Bertold Brecht (from Hauspostille)

Amos translated the whole text of Hauspostille, the coherent and structured collection of poetry Brecht published in 1927. It is not sufficiently known in this country, where his poetry tends to be read from selected or collected translations, which don't give the clear structure of the work. It is a parody of German devotional literature (whether Catholic or Protestant): Eric Bentley's translation is titled Manual of Piety, Amos used the snappy Home Herald. Brecht's wonderful and deeply felt cynicism appealed at some stages to Amos greatly (though there were other religious impulses through his life), and it's typical that of all Brecht's work, it should be this he worked on. Though he does not seem to have worked on Brecht's pays, he did do a lot of translation of Heiner Müller's plays.

"Bitter the code" & "Boats of human kindness" in Worksongs

Thymos in Worksongs

This is the first of three short poems very typical of Amos's best writing. There are variations in the form and the extent to which it is articulated through a felt subjective voice, but typically displays a gorgeously wide vocabulary strung along where discourse breaks into parataxis.

Naturena in Worksongs

poem from a sequence called Elegan in Worksongs

This poem is from a sequence written when Amos was living with his second wife, Nuala, and their children, in a small town in Ireland.

Spirit of my descendants in Worksongs

Similar psychological material to the opening of Non Juan is used here, more rawly. Heiner is Heiner Müller, the German playwright who Amos translated, and also imitated. According to Amos, I was told, he had been looking with interest at a play Amos had written, and died with it on his bedside table — meaning of course, it was never performed. "Long live the Lacondonian rain forest" refers to a holiday in Mexico with his first wife, the novelist Sandra Newman. She refers to this more obliquely in a brief memoir of Amos, The People of the Lacandonian Rain Forest on her website.

the lancôme rainforest in Worksongs

A further, and final, development of the Lacandonian theme.


Other work by a huge range of writers is held in the Archive, or you can use the Quick Index for rapid access to all material on this site.