Posts for Category | Biographical

Why Denton?

Published
Author
Benjamin Laird

At my mid-candidature review, where I presented on my PhD progress, I was asked why I had chosen William Denton as the subject of my biographical poetry.

A decade ago, when I was collecting books on early parapsychology and psychical research (a hobby of mine at the time), I found William and Elizabeth Denton’s Nature’s Secrets. This is a UK version of the first volume of The Soul of Things, Denton's three-volume work on psychometry, though this version is special as it was “Edited with an introduction by a clergyman of the Church of England”.

Psychometry is the ability of a person to obtain visions or feelings when exposed to an object or place. William carried out a range of psychometrical experiments with his wife Elizabeth, sister Annie Denton Cridge and his son Sherman. The psychometer (the psychometrically capable person) would see the histories of objects (often ...

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Truth or Beauty and Bloody Jack

Published
Author
Benjamin Laird

At the end of November I presented a paper at Truth or Beauty: Poetry and Biography in Wellington. It was useful and interesting to hear a range of views on biographical poetry (or verse biography as it was sometimes referred).

I presented on my own works-in-progress but mostly on Dennis Cooley’s Bloody Jack. Bloody Jack, which is loosely about the life of the early twentieth-century Manitoban outlaw John Krafchenko, has two editions. The first was published in 1984 with the second edition—which includes alterations to poems, additional poems and poems moved within the sequence—published in 2002. What is fascinating about the two editions of Bloody Jack is how the representation of John Krafchenko’s life story in them is unstable.

Biographical poetry tends not to get its own description so my starting point was within documentary poetry (which is too wide a category but I will leave that ...

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