Camden New Journal
Publications by New Journal Enterprises
  Home Archive Competition Jobs Tickets Accommodation Dating Contact us
The Review - BOOKS
Published: 8 November 2007
The Horovitz horror show

John Calder reviews the poet Michael Horovitz’s epic account of the
miseries of the past century wrought by humanity on the world

A New Waste Land: Timeship Earth at Millennium - by Michael Horowitz
New Departures £15

MICHAEL Horovitz is one of our most enduring cultural figures.

There are photographs of him reading his poetry in public going back over half a century to be found in the books of others and his literary magazine, which also publishes books. New Departures must now be one of the longest-running of such publications.
Now he has brought out a massive volume, the result of 10 years’ thought, compilation, and literary creation, owing more than its title to T S Eliot, who is liberally quoted, imitated and referred to in the long Horovitz poem that winds its way like a thread through large and multi­form pages of cartoons, news photographs, drawings, pictures, notes and comments all to do with the horrors and events of the 20th century – but mostly the horrors.
The Nazi death camps, lynching of negroes in the American South, politicians smiling to cover up their crimes, police chasing striking miners, tortures and atrocities from early in the century to recent events at Guantanamo Bay, are all there with appropriate accreditation and much comment.
This was a massive and grim job of work. The poem itself, in 12 sections, aside from its many Eliotesque and cultural references, is a plea to make a better world and ends:
....For healing the nations, bold Ministers –
For commitment through and through
We’ll take a cup of kindness yet
– and launch
Our Timeship Earth anew.

Broken lines, bizarre pagination and a Dadaesque use of verse, make the poem – if this long polemic can be called a poem – often seem redundant compared to the text, the history of what lies behind the ­pictorial content and the author’s comment on it.
Inevitably one looks first and reads second and the verse seems curiously remote from the events described and pictured.
That we are a cruel and vicious species: that is what A New Wasteland seems to be saying, not that all life is arid, Eliot’s theme.
This volume is, whatever caveats one might apply to it, a work of importance, a reference book that makes one question human nature and ask if Horovitz’s occasional optimism is not tongue in cheek.
What rings true are such lines as:
When arms deals thrive
and hospitals clot
’tis cruel to be kind. . .

Comment on this article.
(You must supply your full name and email address for your comment to be published)





» A-Z Book titles


Theatre Music
Arts & Events Attractions