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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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All posts for "Video"

Reeding Lessons: the Henry Reed research blog

16.10.2018


Arrows of Desire

I tweeted this a while back, but never posted it here. A reading and re-enactment of Reed's "Naming of Parts," from the Channel 4 series, Arrows of Desire, produced by Optic Nerve, circa 2004. The episode this clip is from is described as:
A selection of well-known poets read and discuss two classic poems—"The Flea" by John Donne and "A sight in camp in the daybreak gray and dim" by Walt Whitman—as well as two modern ones: a letter from Marie Curie" by Lavinia Greenlaw and "Naming of Parts" by Henry Reed.


The videocassette label lists:
...interpretations and discussions by W.N. Herbert, John Kinsella, Clare Pollard, Owen Sheers, Michael Donaghy, Patience Agbabi, Greta Stoddart, Paul Muldoon, John Stammers, Andrew Motion, Rod Mengham, Tom Paulin, Jamie McKendrick, Roger McGough, Sophie Hannah, Jean Binta Breeze, Matthew Sweeney, Kenneth Koch, Matthew Hollis, Jerome Rothenberg, Jane Hirschfield, Wendy Cope, P.J. Kavanagh, Imtiaz Dharker, Iain Sinclair, Lavinia Greenlaw, and Charles Bainbridge.
I'm curious if anyone recognizes the reader/narrator in this clip? I'm dying to know who it may be!

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1524. Reed, Henry. Letters to Graham Greene, 1947-1948. Graham Greene Papers, 1807-1999. Boston College, John J. Burns Library, Archives and Manuscripts Department, MS.1995.003. Chestnut Hill, MA.
Letters from Reed to Graham Greene, including one from December, 1947 Reed included in an inscribed copy of A Map of Verona (1947).


The Wall


The place where our two gardens meet
Is undivided by a street,
And mingled flower and weed caress
And fill our double wilderness
Among whose riot undismayed
And unreproached, we idly played,
While, unaccompanied by fears,
The months extended into years,
Till we went down one day in June
To pass the usual afternoon
And there discovered, shoulder-tall,
Rise in the wilderness a wall....
Henry Reed's poem "The Wall," set to music by Professor Emmy van Deurzen. "The Wall" first appeared in The Penguin New Writing, in 1943. Emmy accompanies a bunch of poems with guitar on her YouTube channel, including Dylan Thomas's "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night," and Louis MacNeice's "A Prayer Before Birth" and "Sunlight on the Garden."

«  Video Music  0  »


1523. Reed, Henry. "Simenon's Saga." Review of Pedigree by Georges Simenon, translated by Robert Baldick. Sunday Telegraph (London), 12 August 1962, 7.
Reed calls Pedigree a work for the "very serious Simenon student only," and disagrees with the translator's choice to put the novel into the past tense.


Listeners, Who Have Turned Off the Wireless

Here's audio of Dylan Thomas reading "Chard Whitlow" on YouTube. Thomas was also fond of "Naming of Parts," and often chose to recite Reed's poems for public appearances and recitals. This recording comes from the Dylan Thomas Caedmon Collection, discussed here previously.


The video's creator, poetictouch, has a Facebook page with more poetry readings, if you MyFace.

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1522. Reed, Henry. "Hardy's Secret Self-Portrait." Review of The Life of Thomas Hardy, by Florence Emily Hardy. Sunday Telegraph (London), 25 March 1962, 6.
Reed says this disguised autobiography is a "ramshackle work," but is still "packed with a miscellany of information not available elsewhere, and readers who care for Hardy will find it everywhere endearing, engaging, and full of his characteristic humour."


Dance of the Seven Veils

Omnibus now presents a new film by Ken Russell: Dance of the Seven Veils. It's been described as a harsh, and at times, violent caricature of the life of the composer Richard Strauss. This is a personal interpretation by Ken Russell, of certain real—and many imaginary—events in the composer's life. Among them are dramatised sequences about the war, and the Nazi persecution of the Jews, which includes scenes of considerable violence, and horror.


I have mentioned previously Reed's final foray into television: in 1969 he delivered a preliminary screen treatment on Strauss, but it was clear that director Ken Russell was not interested in filming a straight-up, chronological biography. Instead, it would be "all dancing and no acting." Unbelievably, Reed still shares credit for the script and scenario:

Film still

(Via Wonders in the Dark.)



1521. Reed, Henry. "Leading a Dance." Review of Fokine: Memoirs of a Ballet Master, translated by Vitale Fokine. Sunday Telegraph (London), 26 November 1961, 6.
Reed finds Fokine's memoirs "very absorbing and intelligent."


Naming of Parts Animation

Jim Clark has been "reincarnating" long-dead poets by animating old photographs to make it seem as if their subjects were reading out loud. The effect is sometimes wonderful, especially if the audio is a recording of the actual poet reading his or her own work. Sometimes, however, the animations are haunted by the uncanny valley effect, which can make the more exaggerated movements of lips and eyebrows seem less real (and even a little creepy). Here's the video for Henry Reed's "Naming of Parts":


(You might recognize that recording from from Reed's 1959 appearance on Oscar Williams' Album of Modern Poetry, and the photograph from Reed's time at the University of Washington, Seattle, circa 1965.)

Clark has so far produced over 300 videos, seen here on his poetryanimations YouTube channel. The Second World War poets are represented by Keith Douglas, Alun Lewis, and Sidney Keyes.

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1520. Reed, Henry. "Shocked into Life." Review of The Empty Canvas, by Alberto Moravia, translated by Angus Davidson. Sunday Telegraph (London), 19 November 1961, 7.
Of Moravia's most recent novel, Reed says "there is something unquestionably heroic about the whole enterprise."


Ooh-Rah

Here's a short clip from the History Channel's Mail Call, hosted by by everyone's favorite gunny, R. Lee Ermey, as he explains the purpose and proper use of that most useless of rifle parts, the stacking swivel (history.com video).

Stacking swivel

The British equivalent of the stacking swivel is, of course, the piling swivel, immortalized in Reed's "Naming of Parts."

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1519. Reed, Henry. "What the Master Kept Back." Review of Picasso's Picassos, photographed and introduced by David Douglas Duncan. Sunday Telegraph (London), 29 October 1961, 6.
Reed calls this book "much more than a retrospective" of unseen works by a master: this collection is "infinitely more touching, and possibly more absorbing."


LOLReed 3

"Weird" Al Yankovic has an excellent song, "Bob," which is not simply a parody of Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues," but also an intelligent exercise in palindromes. The music video (YouTube) for "Bob" is a faithful re-creation of the opening sequence to the 1967 Dylan documentary by D.A. Pennebaker, Don't Look Back.

All this reminded me of a promotional gizmo which came out for the release of the Dylan retrospective on CD last year, which we will now use for our own purposes to summarize Henry Reed's poem, "Chard Whitlow," in ten cue cards or less:


"Chard Whitlow" is itself a parody of T.S. Eliot's Four Quartets, so the circle of life and satire is now complete.

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1518. Reed, Henry. "Ageing Passions." Review of The Complete Poems of Michelangelo, translated by Joseph Tusiana. Sunday Telegraph (London), 11 June 1961, 7.
Reed feels that Professor Tusiani's translations have "merely produced page after page of lifeless verse, often unscannable, and stuffed with many images and fantasies of his own."


Books of Fury



Because we love libraries and cartoon violence in equal parts. "Books of Fury," featuring Buddhist Monkey vs. a pack of book-defacing scofflaw ninjas. (Highlighters? Nooooo!) An episode of mondo media's Happy Tree Friends.

«  Video Library  0  »


1517. Reed, Henry. "Maigret's Master." Reviews of Maigret in Court, and The Premier, by Georges Simenon. Sunday Telegraph (London), 14 May 1961, 7.
Reed finds the translation of Simenon's The Premiere "fortunate," but not so for Maigret in Court, which is "crude" at best.


Henry Reed on YouTube

Some enterprising soul has thoughtfully uploaded Robert Bloomberg's 1971 student film adaptation of "Naming of Parts" to YouTube.com:


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1516. Reed, Henry. "Ego in Flight." Review of Saint-Exupéry, by Marcel Migeo. Sunday Telegraph (London), 26 March 1961, 6.
Reed describes Migeo's biography of "Saint-Ex" as "authoritative" but "unorganized."


Shall I Nail Thee to a Summer's Day?



In honor (or perhaps despite) of April being National Poetry Month, Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert challenges actor and activist Sean Penn to a Meta-Free-Phor-All, moderated by former Poet Laureate, Robert Pinsky.

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1515. May, Derwent. "Reed's Map." Sunday Telegraph (London), 14 December 1986, 20.
Derwent May, former editor at the Listener, reminisces about Henry Reed, shortly after his death in 1986.


Swivel Tips

One of the odd, esoteric things to the study of Henry Reed is becoming familiar with the arms of World War II and their proper use. For instance, when Reed writes to his sister, in 1941, that he is learning to manage an anti-tank rifle, it is helpful to know that he is talking about the "Boyes" anti-tank rifle (though not particularly useful).

Now, I am not a gun person. Far from it. I know less about firearms than I do about automobiles. Or women, for that matter. Nevertheless, I enjoy watching endless Second World War documentaries on the History Channel, and I'm always intrigued by any details of 1940s-era basic training which may have inspired Reed's "Lessons of the War." Which is why I was so happy to see this recent "Piling Swivel" thread in the Great War Forum, which discusses piling of arms, and includes step-by-step illustrations:

Pile Arms

Also, I stumbled across this compilation of old British Pathe newsreels on YouTube, which opens with a demonstration of rifle training with the Pattern 1914 Lee-Enfield, and mentions not only "easing the spring," but even "judging distances."

The other tangential area to studying Reed is the realm of WWII cryptography, and that gets even more weird and esoteric. Oh, and japonica: I know waaaay too much about japonica.



1514. Radio Times, "The Strawberry Ice," 18 January 1973, 43.
Billing for Natalia Ginzburg's "The Strawberry Ice," broadcast on Radio 4 at 3:00 pm, January 24, 1973.


Fan Vid

Pinckney Benedict, author and professor of English at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, has created what can only be described as a fan video for "Naming of Parts":


You can read Professor Benedict's "naming of parts" and other writing exercises over on his blog.

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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.'


Hey, You Guys!

I'm watching "The Electric Company's Greatest Hits & Bits" special, on PBS. "Easy Reader," "The Six Dollar and Thirty-Nine Cent Man," "The Adventures of Letterman." It's like my entire adolescence is being rebroadcast. Rita Moreno, hubba hubba! They opened with this gag, which is like a Shakespearean tragi-comedy, for eight-year-olds:


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1512. Reed, Henry. "The Case for Maigret." Reviews of Maigret Hesitates and The Man on the Bench in the Barn, by Georges Simenon. Sunday Times (London), 2 August 1970: 22.
Reed reviews two translations of George Simenon's fiction.


For Your Viewing Pleasure

Reeding Lessons is proud to present "Naming of Parts," a film by Robert Bloomberg, based on the poem by Henry Reed. Click to go to video:

Film

Produced in 1971 as a student film at San Francisco State University, Bloomberg's "Naming of Parts" won the Student Peace Prize at the 13th annual American Film Festival. Subsequently, it was picked up for distribution as an educational film. From "Poetry and Film for the Classroom" (English Journal, January 1977), a "highly selected checklist of some of the best films made from poems":

Naming of Parts (Contemporary/McGraw-Hill, 5 min., black and white, 1972). Henry Reid's [sic] poem about a soldier daydreaming during a demonstration/lecture on the naming of the parts of his rifle is presented visually through the eyes of the man. The officer conducting the lesson talks about the weapon and death, but the soldier's thoughts are on nature, sex, and life.

If you prefer a direct, non-Flash link, here's the full version (50MB MPEG file, lengthy download).

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1511. William Phillips, and Philip Rahv, eds. New Partisan Reader: 1945-1953 London: Andre Deutsch, 1953. 164-171.
Collects Reed's poem, "The Door and the Window," published in the Partisan Review in 1947.



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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