Ian Hamilton Finlay: Selections

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Univ of California Press, Apr 2, 2012 - Poetry - 310 pages
“The Scottish concrete poet, visual artist, short story writer, aphorist, editor, and ‘avant-gardener’ Ian Hamilton Finlay is one of the great polymaths of our time. His writings alone would put him in the pantheon of twentieth century poets. Finlay’s son Alec, himself a poet, has now given us a selection of his father’s writings, beautifully edited and annotated, lavishly illustrated, and with a superb new introduction to the work. I consider this book, long overdue, to be a milestone in publishing. —Marjorie Perloff, author of The Futurist Moment and Unoriginal Genius: Poetry by other means in the 21st Century

"Ian Hamilton Finlay was an entirely original, and continuously challenging, voice in the poetry of the English-speaking world over the second half of the twentieth century. This promises to be the first book in which his early verse, his concrete poetry and his distinctive compilations of aphorisms and ‘sentences’ are all substantially represented." —Stephen Bann, author of Ways Around Modernism

“When I was young and trying to figure out how to think about landscapes and gardens and their cultural histories, no one opened the garden gates wider than Ian Hamilton Finlay in his poetic and sometimes provocative print projects, garden sculptures, concrete poems (sometimes in actual concrete or stone), aphorisms, and other works. Finlay was a loner, a visionary looking backward to think on revolution and paradise, Arcadia and insurrection, and this book put together by his artist son Alec makes that work available for the first time in a long while, and as gorgeously as possible. Alec's long biographical essay is itself a hugely valuable resource for anyone interested in the elder Finlay's works, and then there are the poems, and the pictures...” —Rebecca Solnit, author of Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas

“Only a handful of poets working in the visual tradition in the twentieth century have a profile that shows up in the broader scenes of fine art and modern culture. Among them, Ian Hamilton Finlay is probably the most frequently cited. But the work and thinking of this complex, enigmatic, and sometimes controversial figure is not necessarily well understood. This new volume documenting the many facets of Finlay's work as a poet, sculptor, and thinker across many media and a lifetime of creative activity will make it possible to study and appreciate his work anew. This collection makes a welcome addition to studies in book arts, visual poetry, and conceptual art through the presentation of an artist whose contributions have registered across these fields.” —Johanna Drucker, Breslauer Professor of Bibliographical Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles

“While Ian Hamilton Finlay’s career is one of complexity, as a creator he was a champion of the simple. Engaging regional melodies, quotidian objects, and native terrain, he took poetry back to its Greek root, ‘to make.’ This half-century journey—from folk poem to concrete poem to poem-in-the-world—is at all points filled with a vital restlessness.” —Lisa Jarnot, author of Night Scenes

“One must never forget that poets are makers, most vividly so in Scotland, where William Dunbar’s ‘Lament for the Makaris’ must still echo with uncanny poignance. Poetry is ‘a made thing’, as Robert Duncan put it. No poet will ever manage a word, much less a line, without all the resources of that art in timeless history sounding there, as each word finds its place in turn. There is no way to learn simply the intimacy of voice that Finlay has always, bringing one in to his physical person. It is a constant of his art in all its forms.” —Robert Creeley, from the foreword to the 1996 edition of Ian Hamilton Finlay’s The Dancers Inherit the Party and Glasgow Beasts, an a Burd





 

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Contents

Picking the Last Wild Flower
1
Postcard from Glenlednoch
65
Walking through Seaweed
75
from The Dancers Inherit the Party
95
Glasgow Beasts An a Burd
118
My Little Beat Mill in the West
127
Concrete Fauve Suprematist Sequential and Kinetic Poems
135
OneWord Poems
156
from Table Talk of Ian Hamilton Finlay
202
Heroic Anagrams
208
OneLine Poems and Monostich
214
from The Ivory Flute
222
from Clerihews for Liberals
229
from Flakes
236
from Spring Verses
237
from Glider Days
244

from Domestic Pensées
164
from A Mast of Hankies
170
from Detached Sentences on Gardening
179
from Interpolations in Hegel
192
Boat
256
A Note on the Critical Heritage
301
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About the author (2012)

Ian Hamilton Finlay (1925-2006) was an acclaimed Scottish poet and artist. Alec Finlay is an artist and poet.

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