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Nuncle Music

Nuncle Music

Gareth Reeves

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‘You must not take me at my word, / you must take me at my lack of word, / you must take me at my music.’ In Nuncle Music, a sequence of monologues ‘spoken’ by the composer Dmitri Shostakovich, Gareth Reeves presents the psychodrama of an artist forced into the service of tyranny. Though the terror and intrigue of Soviet life haunt the poetry, acerbic wit and mischief are also here: Hamlet farts through a flute, Stalin plays the triangle, and up in space cosmonaut Gagarin sings a song by Shostakovich of ‘intergalactic platitudes’.

Barrie Ormsby’s drawings provide a vivid accompaniment to Reeves’ poems.

'A compelling psychodrama about the tangle of self-justification, guilt and defiance that has turned Shostakovich ... into a paradigm of the conflict between artistic integrity and political compromise.... Shostakovich’s inner life was like “an incessantly running motor, an ever-open wound”. It is this “running motor” to which Reeves listens so carefully in these poems, matching Shostakovich’s expedient avoidance of too clear an equivalence between meaning and expression with language that plays similar equivocal tricks.... But Reeves sees, beyond the irony in Shostakovich’s soul, a man haunted by his past and its effect on his art: “Years ago I listened to the noise of time. / It took revenge. Now I want /noise out of time”. The rest is silence.'

‘Noise out of time’, Andrew McCulloch, TLS June 6 2014

'It isn't easy for a poet to keep faith with Shostakovich, for whom words solved nothing, whose resort was music and, beyond that, self-defeatingly and only in imagination, silence. Reeves does just that.' Gillian Allnutt

Additional Information

Author Gareth Reeves
Publisher Carcanet
Publication date 1 Sep 2013
Format Paperback
ISBN/EAN 9781847771537

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