Reading England: Pastoral, elegy and the politics of place in Richard Caddel and Harriet Tarlo

Selby, Nick ORCID: (2010) Reading England: Pastoral, elegy and the politics of place in Richard Caddel and Harriet Tarlo. Textual Practice, 25 (5). pp. 893-911. ISSN 0950-236X

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Ric Caddel's poem ‘Fantasia in the English Choral Tradition’ (1987) owes much to the idea of a poetics of place that feels peculiarly English. Its delicate rhythms and musical cadences explore a poetic here-and-now that recalls the there-and-then of a lyric, pastoral tradition (both musical, as in Vaughan Williams' evocation of Thomas Tallis, and poetic, as in the range of English nature poets to which it alludes). This essay argues that Caddel's attention (in this poem, as well as more generally) to things at hand, to living both ‘in’ and ‘for’ poetic ‘contact with the world’, performs an argument about the vital importance of the poet's place in that world. His work asserts, that is, that all things are contingent, that poetic experience is indispensable, that ‘there is no “away”/to sling things to’. Caddel's sense of the place of the poet is, however, not without irony, and it is this sense that the essay further explores in relation to another poet whose work has received very little attention, Harriet Tarlo. Like Caddel, Tarlo's poetry, and especially her sequence ‘Love/Land’ (2001), tests, poetically, the space(s) we occupy. Tarlo's work is written in response to the (Northern) English countryside yet, like Caddel's, its sense of place is complicated – ironized – by the fact that it has learned much about the poetics of place from ‘away’, from American poets such as Pound, Williams and, most particularly, Niedecker. This essay considers, therefore, the implications of this upon the place that poets such as Caddel and Tarlo occupy within an English poetic tradition. It suggests, finally, that their place outside (away from) the English poetic mainstream, and the sparse critical notice they have received, is precisely – and ironically – an index of the attention their poetry gives to very English senses of place and of dwelling poetically.

Item Type: Article
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of American Studies (former - to 2014)
UEA Research Groups: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Research Groups > American Studies
Depositing User: Sarah Burbidge
Date Deposited: 06 Jul 2011 08:58
Last Modified: 06 Sep 2023 09:32
DOI: 10.1080/0950236X.2010.495531

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