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Documenting the quest to track down everything written by (and written about) the poet, translator, critic, and radio dramatist, Henry Reed.

An obsessive, armchair attempt to assemble a comprehensive bibliography, not just for the work of a poet, but for his entire life.

Read "Naming of Parts."

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Henry Reed, ca. 1960


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I Capture the Castle: A girl and her family struggle to make ends meet in an old English castle.
Dusty Answer: Young, privileged, earnest Judith falls in love with the family next door.
The Heat of the Day: In wartime London, a woman finds herself caught between two men.


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«  Posts from 15 April 2010  »

Reeding Lessons: the Henry Reed research blog

16.12.2017


Carol Muske-Dukes, the poet laureate of California, has been holding an extended conversation over the past five months with Lieutenant Colonel Edward Ledford, U.S. Army, and posting the exchanges over at The Huffington Post. Colonel Ledford is stationed in Kabul, Afghanistan, and has been taking the time to share his thoughts on war, poetry, and the poetry of war.

In the first part, "Soldier to Poet: An Exchange," we meet Lt Col Ed Ledford (photo), and learn that in addition to flying helicopters and jumping out of airplanes, he has taught English at the University of Alabama and the United States Military Academy at West Point. Prompted by Muske-Dukes, Ledford talks about the romanticism of war, cowardice and conscience, and by turns, Hamlet.

In Part II, they cover Wilfred Owen and the old lie, "Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori."

The latest exchange, Part III, finds the pair going over "Naming of Parts." Ledford considers April, and spring in Afghanistan, and says:

The first lines point me back to the creation myth and allegorical Eden. Adam 'gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field.' He was on the verge of something: shortly after — the temptation, the fall, the migration to a world of pain, suffering, and death.

And those first lines do put us on the verge of something — today we name; tomorrow is 'what to do after firing.' Between today and tomorrow, we're firing the weapons, and that means one thing — engagement, combat, casualties. These are apparently new troops in training, one could argue that the firing will be at a rifle range, harmless.

But let's not fool ourselves: the firing at the range is a cold rehearsal of killing, firing at paper or plastic silhouettes of the human form — flat, faceless, nameless, anonymous representations of the innumerable and unnameable casualties, very many of whom will suffer agonizing deaths or agonizing lives.

(See also Major Edward F. Palm's explication for Masterplots.)

Ledford procedes to uncover the language of "Naming of Parts," camouflaged in a Q&A which took place between Donald Rumsfeld and American soldiers on the eve of the Iraq War, turning the hollow-sounding responses into a found poem:
As you know, you go
to war

with the Army you have.

They're not the Army
you might want

or wish to have
at a later time.

If you think
about it,
you can have
all the armor
in the world
on a tank
and a tank
can be blown
up.

It is something
you prefer not to have to use,
obviously,
in
a perfect world.

It's been used

as little as possible.
Lt Col Ledford is contributing to "Crossing State Lines, an American Renga," a conversation-poem between 54 poets, part of the America: Now + Here project—a mobile, cross-country exhibition of artists, writers, and musicians—scheduled for spring, 2011.


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What is Henry Reed's first name?

1513. Hodge, Alan. "Thunder on the Right." Tribune (London), 14 June 1946, 15.
Hodge finds 'dry charm as well as quiet wit' in "Judging Distances," but overall feels Reed is 'diffuse and not sufficiently accomplished.'



1st lesson:

Reed, Henry (1914-1986). Born: Birmingham, England, 22 February 1914; died: London, 8 December 1986.

Education: MA, University of Birmingham, 1936. Served: RAOC, 1941-42; Foreign Office, Bletchley Park, 1942-1945. Freelance writer: BBC Features Department, 1945-1980.

Author of: A Map of Verona: Poems (1946)
The Novel Since 1939 (1946)
Moby Dick: A Play for Radio from Herman Melville's Novel (1947)
Lessons of the War (1970)
Hilda Tablet and Others: Four Pieces for Radio (1971)
The Streets of Pompeii and Other Plays for Radio (1971)
Collected Poems (1991, 2007)
The Auction Sale (2006)


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