Always outnumbered. Generally overdresssed.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Craig Raine and the world's most famous arsehole

There are plenty of English poets that I just don't like, but Craig Raine is the only one that I have personal-type beef with.

For those who don't know, Raine is described in Wikipedia as 'the best-known proponent of Martian Poetry'.

Well, exactly.

His long poem 'History The Home Movie' is a book so exquisitely bad that it has its own section in secondhand bookshops, next to 'History'.

He once wrote a poem called 'Arsehole', about his wife's arsehole. The first verse goes like this:

It is shy as a gathered eyelet
neatly worked in shrinking violet;
it is the dilating iris, tucked
away, a tightening throb when fucked.

Funnily enough, if you put "Craig Raine Arsehole" into Google you get this picture:

So imagine my delight on discovering that Raine has been employed by former KGB man Alexander Lebedev to add an air of literary gravitas to to everyone's favourite right-wing daily, The London Evening Standard. This is ironic, given that Raine's wife, presumed owner of the lyrically fibrillating arsehole, is Anne Pasternak Slater, neice of Boris Pasternak, author of Dr. Zhivago an excellent book suppressed for many years by everyone's favourite agents of socialist terror, the KGB.

His first piece (I presume it is just the first since it's not about anything terribly current, so it looks and reads like they've just said, go ahead and write whatever you like) an essay on Jeff Koons and high art appeared about a week ago. It's a hijacking of of Koons's work that allows Raine to push his three ideas and contains examples of writing that are Rainian beyond parody:

Koons is true to the coruscating wattage of flowers and will not, apparently, admit the obverse — those same petals anointed with rust and decay. We are used to the ironies of modernism, its sceptical interrogation of romantic feelings, but Koons is part of a tradition that goes back to the Renaissance, back to Michelangelo's drawings of “ideal heads”, a tradition that admits selection and improvement, a poetic treatment of reality.

All I can say about it is that if you've ever written something, and then woken in the night and been overtaken by a subtle dread and felt exposed and embarrassed, and thought that maybe what you'd written, despite everything, really had sounded pretentious after all, and then wished that you could take it back, only it's out there irrevocably in print, so maybe you'd ended up knotting the duvet in your toes and secretly promised to yourself just to stop trying to attract attention to your ideas and resolved to from now on be an ordinary working stiff, you really should read this article.

Raine is co-editor of a literary magazine, that should be called ArrĂȘte!


Integral said...

Urk. All that italicised courier new made one of my eyes fall out.

Not literally, of course. What an *amusing* thought.

Anyway, keep up the good work. I'd comment more often but most of what you say these days goes six feet over my head. I am quite small.

Gordon Comstock said...

Ok, italicised courier is probably a sociopathic type statement too far.

You also never manage to post a comment without putting yourself down.

If you like I can amend your comments during the approval process, to help you re-imagine your self-image.

Integral said...

Well spotted, Mr Comstock.

When I write these comments I often imagine the self-depreciating humour makes me seem like something of a wag.

But perhaps in reality they give the impression that I am a deppressed, downtrodden buffoon.

Damn. There I go again.

Feel free to offer your edit of this one.

Tim said...


About Craig Raine. When I worked in a print shop in Oxford, some years ago, this weird guy came in smelling of port and asked me to design and print some A1 posters explicitly stating just what an arsehole Craig Raine is. It was his brother, and he hates him with a blackness that only a sibling can. It might be because he's a poet too, apparently. Anyway, they weren't very good posters as at that point I had yet to study design but Raine the Lesser seemed well pleased and paid me 700 quid in cash. Score! I've still got a few kicking about if you want one (posters, not quids). Bye then.

Gordon Comstock said...

Boy, would I love one of them.

Blogging is great.

Can you email me, address is at the bottom of the page.