"This judging of art by criteria of social utility, a pernicious commonplace in today's world (it was Stalinism's legacy to New Labour), was appalling to Auden. He had revised some of his works, and suppressed others, in order to purge them not only of the qualities he associated with bad Yeats - false emotion, inflated rhetoric, empty sonorities - but also of anything that smacked of subservience to the party line. When he spoke on public issues, it was as an individual conscience, not as a representative of a party interest."
(James Fenton, "A voice of his own," The Guardian, 3 February 2007)
Went to see Vashti Bunyan & Vetiver play last night at the Carrboro Arts Center. I hadn't listened to any of Bunyan's work before seeing her perform and I was really impressed. She was accompanied by several musicians sitting in a semi-circle around her, including violin, cello and piano. Her voice is exquisitely quiet and builds an eloquent aura around each of her relatively short songs. She introduced each one with anecdotes about when she wrote them, about half of them were from the 1960s. In one comment, she spoke of trying to evoke emotions she had after abandoning music for many years, feeling that she had somehow gotten lost, that she had fallen away from her dreams of being able to live life as a journey into unknown regions. Then she said that today it felt as though she had been able to regain that dream of travel and exploration. She sang beautifully throughout the concert.
Vetiver played fantastically as well, changing the tempos on songs I'd heard before from their first album. Andy Cabic's mellifluous voice complemented by a band that works well together, loose and intimate. It was freezing outside and the small theater of the Arts Center was a perfect antidote.
Among the books my sister brought back from Caracas for me is Juan Carlos Chirinos's first novel El niño malo cuenta hasta cien y se retira (Caracas: Grupo Editorial Norma, 2004), which I'm about to finish reading tonight. The book indirectly deals with the topic of exile and nomadic impulses (Chirinos lives in Madrid) and it's also concerned with poetry. In an afterword, he writes about two poets who influenced his novel:
“I also want to express that this text is a very justified homage to Venezuelan poets, in particular doña Ana Enriqueta Terán – from whose verses I've borrowed the name of this novel, an insolent and neighborly version of her voice – and don Eugenio Montejo, some of whose words (including the poem to Caracas) I've allowed myself to reproduce, since “no poem fits in a single book only.” Thank you for the hours of infinite pleasure beside your verses.”