“As music-making is a way of making sense of noise, of giving noise order,” writes John Burnside in The Music of Time: Poetry in the Twentieth Century, “so poetry is a way of ordering experience, of giving a meaningful order to lived time.” And that’s precisely what the author proceeds to do. Instead of what might be expected – a survey of twentieth century poetry – Burnside considers some of the great poetry of the last century and how it shaped and gave meaning to his own life.
Burnside, a poet, novelist, and essayist considered one of the greatest living literary critics, has had, like most of us, a diverse life that needs some meaningful ordering. He studied English and European languages at the Cambridgeshire College of Arts and Technology but worked as a computer analyst and software engineer for many years. He began to publish poetry in the 1980s and is now the author of some 16 poetry collections. He’s also a novelist, his most recent work being Havergey (2017), the story of man who experiments with time travel and ends up in a future Scotland – having missed the intervening plagues (like skipping 2020 and finding yourself in a post-coronavirus world).
To continue reading, please see my post today at Tweetspeak Poetry.