Accessibility Tools

  • Content scaling 100%
  • Font size 100%
  • Line height 100%
  • Letter spacing 100%

Peter Kocan

In or about that annus mirabilis 1968, Philip Roberts – academic, musician, poet and founder in 1970 of the poetry imprint Island Press – delivered a conference paper entitled ‘Physician Heal Thyself’, which considered eminent poets who had also been medical practitioners. (Roberts had gone from Canada to Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar to study medicine, but in a Pauline moment switched to Arts.) He spoke of William Carlos Williams, Miroslav Holub, and Boris Pasternak, among others. The climax of his paper was his consideration of Pasternak’s novel Doctor Zhivago, which he claimed had as its raison d’être nothing more or less than to serve as a vehicle for Zhivago’s poetry, which appears, if memory serves correctly, as an appendix. The tail well and truly wagged the tale.

... (read more)

Beautiful Veins by Mal Morgan & Fighting in the Shade by Peter Kocan

April 2000, no. 219

In a note to the reader, Mal Morgan tells us that this last, posthumous collection Beautiful Veins – it comes with a CD selected from this and other work – was written during the five months after his being diagnosed with lung cancer. They’re note-taking, note-jotting poems. A sense of someone hurriedly trying to account for and describe his response both to the diagnosis and to the radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatments which ensue is uppermost. Strong, disturbing, they’re often ‘I do this, I do that’ (Frank O’Hara’s phrase) confessional poems.

... (read more)

I would not lightly mention any writer of fiction in the same breath as John Cheever, who was one of the most remarkable and enjoyable storytellers of our times. I can’t better this short comment which says it all: ‘The Cheever corpus is magical – a mood, a vision, a tingle, all quite unexplainably achieved.’ That is from Newsweek and graces the front cover of The Stories of John Cheever (King Penguin).

... (read more)