‘The Pages are Bugged': the politics of listening in the poetry of W.S. Graham
Pollard, N. (2010) ‘The Pages are Bugged': the politics of listening in the poetry of W.S. Graham. The Cambridge Quarterly, 39 (1). pp. 1-22. ISSN 1471-6836
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1093/camqtly/bfq001
This paper probes the public dimensions of the work of the twentieth-century Scottish poet W. S. Graham. It draws upon the public contacts and contexts that Graham's lyrics structure and reconfigure, in texts that have appeared to critics to demonstrate the poet's textual aloneness, his intellectual and geographical banishment. Repeatedly addressing his St Ives community of artists and writers, lovers and companions, Graham's work sets up strategic routes through a succession of publicly-minded verbal engagements. Refusing to allow one passively to listen in to the poet's isolation, the lyrics invite, rebuff, tease, avoid, dally with, and proposition audiences and interlocutors. Graham's poetry speaks from within and without tradition, location and heritage, subtly attuning readers to the politics of its handling of national allegiance, identity, class and patronage.