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Richard Price

Richard Price

Biography

Richard Price was born in 1966. His father was a manager in the construction industry, first with Laing and then at the Scottish Special Housing Association. The Association was said to be the largest builder of council homes in Europe: it was aggressively dismantled in the early years of the Thatcher government, when Price's father was made redundant. Price's mother worked at home, raising four sons. She had attended art college in Kent in her teens and managed, sometimes, to find time to paint for pleasure.
 
At the age of seventeen Price trained as a journalist at Napier College, Edinburgh. He then studied English and Librarianship at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. In 1988 he moved to London to work at the British Library, completing in his spare time a PhD concerning the novelist Neil Gunn's political and aesthetic response to the tragic. For many years Price was a curator at the British Library and then the head of the curatorial department Modern British Collections. This section later disappeared in an internal reorganisation: while there he curated Migrant and the Possibility of Poetry, an exhibition which highlighted Gael Turnbull's role in the American, Scottish and English networks which primed and catalysed the British Poetry Revival of the 1960s and 70s (and the parallel re-emergence of the artist book in the UK). He also co-developed and judged the Michael Marks Pamphlet Awards, attempting to re-set and widen the aesthetic terms of poetry's reception within the conventional prize infrastructure. After working for four years in a strategy unit at the Library he returned in 2014 to curatorship as Head of Contemporary British Collections, the department responsible for the Library’s sound archive, web archive, contemporary manuscripts, and contemporary legal deposit publications.


In the 1990s Price had been associated with the group of poets the Informationists, coining the name. It remains one of the few UK groupings since the Second World War to name and identify itself collectively, to establish its own publishing and reviewing network (for example, via such magazines as Verse and Gairfish) and to publish a group anthology with manifestos (Contraflow on the SuperHighway, 1994) . Aiming to import more 'non-poetic' ideas into poetry and to challenge the hierarchies inscribed in the language of political systems (including academia), Informationism can be seen in part as continuing the late modernist and social programme of the poet Edwin Morgan.
 
At this time Price co-edited Gairfish, Verse, and Southfields, and co-founded Vennel Press, which published early books by David Kinloch, Elizabeth James, W. N. Herbert, Donny O'Rourke, Peter McCarey and others. He now edits the little magazine Painted, spoken.
 
His collections include Lucky Day, Greenfields, and Rays, and as R. J. Price he has published a novel, The Island. His collection Small World (Carcanet, 2012) won the SMIT Scottish Book of the Year Award in the poetry category. In 2013 he was European Poet in Residence at the University of Coimbra, Portugal. 
 
Recurrent themes in his work include the complex nature of disability (in large part a result of his experience as a father whose daughter, Katie, has Angelman's Syndrome); and the relationship between intelligence, the lyric (in song and in poetry) and love. His work ranges across a large stylistic and tonal spectrum but he has positioned himself as "a writer of modern lyric poetry in the sense, say, that Denise Riley or Kelvin Corcoran, I believe, are."
 
He often works with artists in other media, including Simon Lewandowski (digital and conceptual), Karen Bleitz, Ron King, and Julie Johnstone (artist's books), David Annand (sculpture), and Caroline Trettine and Ian Kearey (music).  His website is hydrohotel.net, where Painted, spoken is available in digital form and where Price's literary criticism is collected.

Recordings

Stamford Hill, North London, 2007

This recording was made on 29 January 2007, at a house in Stamford Hill, north London.

Video

  • The Poetry Archive, 21 November 2016

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Bibliography

  • Moon for Sale (poems, Carcanet, 2017)
  • Sedna and the Fulmar (with book artist Ronald King, Circle Press, 2017)
  • Is This A Poem? (essays on poetry, small presses, and artist’s books, Molecular Press, 2016)
  • Going, going, gone (with book artist Ronald King, Circle Press, 2013)
  • Small World (poems, Carcanet, 2012)
  • Rays (poems, Carcanet, 2009)
  • The Island (fiction, as 'R. J. Price', Two Ravens, 2009)
  • Wake Up and Sleep (with artist Caroline Isgar, 2009)
  • folded (with book artist Julie Johnstone, essence press, 2008)
  • little but often (with book artist Ronald King, Circle Press, 2007)
  • Greenfields (poems, Carcanet, 2007)
  • Earliest Spring Yet (poems, Landfill Press, 2006)
  • Lute Variations (versions of Louise Labé, Rack Press, 2006)
  • British Poetry Magazines 1914-2000, with David Miller (British Library, 2006)
  • Lucky Day (poems, Carcanet Press, 2005)
  • The Mechanical Word (poems for a series of five artist's books by Karen Bleitz, Circle Press, 2005)
  • A Boy In Summer (short stories, 11:9, 2002)
  • Frosted, Melted (poems, Diehard, 2002)
  • Renfrewshire in Old Photographs (poems, with Raymond Friel, 2000)
  • The Star You Steer By: Basil Bunting and British Modernism (co-edited collection of essays, with James McGonigal, Rodopi, 2000)
  • Gift Horse (collaboration with book artist Ronald King, Circle Press, 1999)
  • Perfume & Petrol Fumes (poems, Diehard, 1999)
  • Hand Held (poems, Akros, 1997)
  • Marks & Sparks (poems, Akros, 1995)
  • Contraflow on the Superhighway (co-edited anthology with W. N. Herbert of Informationist poetry, Southfields/Gairfish, 1994)
  • Tube Shelter Perspective (poems, Southfields, 1993)
  • Sense and a Minor Fever (poems, Vennel Press, 1993) 
  • The Fabulous Matter of Fact: Neil M. Gunn's Poetics (literary criticism, Edinburgh University Press, 1991) 

 

Sample Text

Medicate to lessen

 

Medicate to lessen what’s intimate in sorrow,
or talk, talk it over –
 
                all this choice in reasons, in the render,
                and it’s just between you and no-one in particular, a value one-to-one.
 
                Faith in a reflecting surface – I confess, no inner life to speak of
and a thirst for outerness. From sip to gulp a zepto sec,
so multiply. Still no quench.
Sensation consumption, max and no check:  where’s that exteriority heading?
 
Para-diagnose and park it, self-drug.
In any case, less self, thanks, and a quest for structures of the collective.
I know, the good future’s old-fashioned.
Belonging to sharing needs activation. It doesn’t scratch a plan for let’s get off this planet.
There’s so much space, together.
 
A fine car pursuit, screech of post-production. Keep going. They’re close, gaining.
They’re close, shape-shifting,
like like to the function of like. They’re
 
a liquid air acceptance, that kind of government.
The mobilised layers stuff mouths with all a bit harmless,
so much dust you don’t see the pyroclastic flow –
viscose tides of it in the menace,
viscose tides of it in the confidence,
viscose, but they’re saying just breathe this clothy slick in, it’s
natural,
 
grab yourself a leg-up, grip justifies grasp, use your stealth, hot royalize.
 
Can this weight, this velocity be used?
It doesn’t start with choice, with unit of “you”, how any one might feel.
Privilege polices the pre-sets , trumpets its come-the-innocent  equal opportunity / “just join-in” .
 
It’s a way of lifestyle, a shield formation, the self-special,
aggrandised gangs hoarding elegance and “give the hordes a kicking, example serves”.
 
Etch a plan for let’s get off this planet. There’s so much inner space, out there, together.

Reviews

David Wheatley, '"and cannot say /and cannot say": Richard Price, Randolph Healy and the Dialogue of the Deaf', paper given at The Way It Had To Be Said... Language, Translation, Experimentation, Symposium of the AHRC Irish-Scottish Poetry Project, Queen's University Belfast, 22nd Nov. 2007,

Fiona Wilson, "For Your Information: Getting the News from Painted, spoken", International Journal of Scottish Literature, 2 (Spring/Summer 2007)

"Lucky Day by Richard Price is a felicitous gathering of Richard Price's unusual, poignant and funny poetry, which has been appearing in chapbooks, magazines and beautiful small-press volumes for more than a decade. They are clear, witty, intelligent, versatile and often highly moving; superb examples of a hardearned surface simplicity conveying oceanic depths of feeling and thought." --Robert Potts, The Guardian

"The play of these poems is moving and yet linguistically challenging. The sense of innocent nursery rhyme and the hard-ended reality of the situation create a unique poetry - even a new modernism. Price has given late modernism an injection of humanity it has long required."--John Kinsella, The Manhattan Review, on Lucky Day

"Price was one of the so-called Informationists. Their agenda, broadly, involved reclaiming the various specialist lexicons and syntaxes - scientific, commercial, political and technological - and finding metaphor under mere data. In Price's case this is often achieved by juxtaposition with 'traditional' verse forms, such as lullabies, nursery rhymes and songs, in a manner reminiscent of the late Veronica Forrest-Thomson. For example, one sub-section of the book is entitled 'Marks and Sparks': the nickmame of a high street store is transformed into a meditation on the thrills and bruises of love. This may sound academic, but consider the height of this collection, the 'Hand Held' sequence. Confessional poetry can be slightly manipulative; however, these poems are not splurges of unedited emotion, but honed and sophisticated objects. They range from the brutally frank ('People will not love you / when we are dead') to hard-won epiphanies ('whatever your clear eyes are meaning / you mean it brightly'). Those who think contemporary poetry is a parlour-game for pseuds ought to read this astonishingly moving, filigree-fine book."--S. B. Kelly, The Sunday Herald, on Lucky Day

"Poets have to be linguistic virtuosi, but I prefer them to be brilliant quietly. Richard Price’s poetry is inventive, sometimes dazzling, but never merely showy. I first came to Price’s poetry with the publication of Lucky Day (2005) and every subsequent book has delivered fresh weather. Moon for Sale appeared in January 2017, and I’m still rereading it and finding new pleasures. Price threads the political into the personal when he writes love poetry, and his intensely felt lyricism is sinewy with warning." -- Carol Rumens, The Guardian

"Many of the poems in Moon for Sale, especially the longer poems, may look like free verse; in fact, their precise structures, their subtle use of rhyme and ingenious rhythms reflect the speed and depth of thought. The ordering of the poems in the collection is deeply satisfying; Price leads the reader on a mazy sometimes astonishing pilgrimage to a safe arrival." -- James Aitchison, Acumen

"...moments of sudden natural beauty are unexpected and lovely accompaniments to the jaunty and memorable style of Moon for Sale." -- Suzannah V. Evans, Tears in the Fence

 

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