What is this new European thing with two German writers winning my Book of the Year after the dominance of American writers. But Enzensberger is no sudden surprise. I’ve liked his poetry ever since I read his early book The Sinking of the Titanic. The image of the grand piano falling down the slanting floor of the grand ball room as the great ship lists to its fate, is one that’s so embedded in my psyche that I can’t remember whether he invented it or me but this book is just as good and may bring new images that will last. The subtitle of this new collection is revealing, ’99 meditations’ and these are much more inward looking and private poems than the grand metaphor of hubris. The book is summed up as a celebration of the ‘tenacity of normality in everyday life’.
Ron Pretty is an Australian poet who has been writing poetry for more than forty years and his latest book Postcards from the Centre, is just as good as anything he’s written. These are lovely, thoughtful, crafted poems and, continuing the theme of the cloud, there’s plenty of weather here too. But the greatest compliment I can pay this book is the one where I know a book has touched me: it made me want to write. Finally, I didn’t entirely ignore the American connection this year. Once again in NY I found a book that’s been on my Amazon wish list forever, Raymond Carver’s A New Path to the Waterfall. It was good to revisit one of my favourite American poets again.