Reviews

5.0 out of 5 stars A critique of modern art and architecture,1 Aug 2013
By MRS. S. J. Wood

This review is from: Culture Wars: To Discipline the Devil's Regions (Kindle Edition)

In this book the author argues in favour of traditional art which develops within traditional forms, and shows his distaste for modern artists whom he considers need to shock to get recognised: a trait which he concludes is negative and harmful. He questions whether an object is magically transformed just by being placed in an art gallery and calls upon our young artists of today to uplift and revive our civilisation.

He then moves on to discuss modern architecture and is similarly critical of the way Britain's modern towns and cities have been transformed for the benefit of local councils and commerce and not for the country as a whole. The resultant brutalist architecture has left communities culturally dispossessed by these ideological schemes and only the highly articulate and professional classes can defeat them. The book then goes on to list many of the horrors that have been constructed in our major cities from London to Liverpool and the author describes how these dwarf and intrude upon the elegance of the buildings juxtaposed alongside.

If you are one of those who trails through a modern art gallery completely unmoved by the random daubings on the walls, or who shudder as a much loved elegant building is demolished only to make way for yet another culturally and aesthetically devoid concrete block, then you will delight in this book.


5.0 out of 5 stars Saving our Art and Culture, 22 April 2013
By David Howells "David" (Birmingham)

This review is from: Culture Wars: To Discipline the Devil's Regions (Paperback)

This is a book not of its time but all time. The author refuses to dumbdown and treats his readers as intelligent people. It is a dense, complicated book and as the legendary Brett Stevens (amerika.com) says in his excellent and insightful Foreword:

"Readers new to the idea of traditional thinking may take a few moments to adapt to the winding, seemingly carefree form. Over time it becomes clear that this style is designed to bring out the sentiment and aesthetics of the subject matter, and not to be merely functional in the way that a catalogue description, law or instructions to a factory worker might be. This is a text to get lost in, to mull over, and enjoy in front of a warm fire. Unlike modern texts, which have one speed, this one goes as fast as you do, and you get out of it what you put into it.

The result is an insightful introduction into the world of traditional thought. This form of conservatism pre-dates the Enlightenment and the French Revolution, and is as organic as the society it idealizes. As he says, "Traditional culture has depth: you can penetrate its productions as far as you have the depth to go."

Hamilton provides a re-definition of art for a new age, a traditional basis for architecture and town planning, greater protection for animals and the environment, analysis of Nihilist and subversive Cultural Marxist drama, and the superior Elizabethan and Jacobean tragedy, and English Churches and the history, symbolism and legends associated with them.

The criticism of contemporary architecture is pertinent: He adds that a liberal-Marxist online journal as well as a Conservative one refused to publish his views. This is always a difficulty when one offers alternative views to the orthodoxy after it has become hegemonic. The idea of conservation and conservatism is explored along with the contemporary ruination of our countryside by the coalition is exposed as un-necessary and self-interested. The argument that animals become part of the family is true and that relationship requires they be given greater legal protection stands up.

The last piece on English churches is a positive discourse on history, symbolism and legend and how churches are both the root and branches of our nation giving us sustenance and holding us together. I also note the discussion on The Wheel of Fortune he introduced in discussing Rochester cathedral. This cyclical view of history has a wider appeal than the rather quaint linear idea where everything is held to be progressing to a utopia.


King Alfred's Jewel

Poetry of the Imagination and Imaginative Photography
by David Hamilton

How much has your background in journalism helped you write this book?

“Wolfshead” began as an investigation into outlaws and their historical lives. My experiences in journalism affected the original research into Wild Humphrey Kynaston at local libraries and in the Public Records Office in Kew because I approached it as an investigative journalist tracing the real story of an outlaw. A resulting essay was published in the New English Review of June 2011 as “Pursuing An Outlaw – The Real Wild Humphrey Kynaston”. My experiences in “Sales” help because the writing is creative, but after is pitching and selling the product.

You have studied English Literature – who are your favourite writers from this experience?

My favourite writers are poets and dramatists. I used to read the greats like Shakespeare, Milton, Tennyson but now I listen to the spoken versions of plays and poems on Naxos and I watch a lot of films and television adaptations of famous novels and plays on DVD. I am a big fan of Classic Hollywood and my favourite actors are Edward G Robinson and Humphrey Bogart who could really act and carried their films without CGI to carry them. I prefer poetry that is not obscure but accessible to readers with a good story to tell. Twentieth-century poets tried to be too clever for their readers.

Which legends inspired your writing?

Wild Humphrey Kynaston inspired me in more than just this book and I spent a great deal of time researching him. I have been interested in the romantic tales of outlaws like Robin Hood and Dick Turpin and the Western ones like Jesse James since I was young. The romantic idea that they “Robbed the rich to give to the poor” is a nice thought but fantasy. When I began researching Wild Humphrey Kynaston I realised the legends are very similar in events and the benevolent nature attributed to the outlaw but their real stories are different and much more exciting. Kynaston's legend comprises the usual tales of giving money to the poor and indeed he might have on occasion as there are examples of even Al Capone helping people out and you hear romantic stories of the Krays now.

But there was much more to it than that and like others Kynaston was a gang leader with close family as nucleus of the gang. He led several raids on Oswestry Castle and other properties of Lord Arundel. In fact he and his followers were described as dressed in “white harness” which was the colour of the Duke of York and suggests he was continuing the Wars of the Roses in his active period between 1485 and 1515. Like The Folvilles he was pardoned by the king for fighting in the royal army.

Other outlaws who return and tell their stories are Fulk Fitzwarrin III, Wild Edric, The Folvilles, The Cotrels, Tom Faggus who was used as a character in Lorna Doon and Dick Turpin, who was ruthless in real life not dashing and romantic.

How challenging was it to combine both poetry and a dramatic monologue in the book?

Strangely, it was not challenging but a solution because in “Wolfshead”, the Dramatic Monologue, I had several characters but did not want to write a play for a book of poems. A Dramatic Monologue was the answer as it has characters talking but without stage directions or much movement. I have never enjoyed Robert Browning's Dramatic Monologues so I only read small passages to get an idea of how the monologues are delivered. However, I find Tennyson's monologues very enjoyable and listened to some on CD. I am thinking of writing Wolfshead as a film script in the near future.

When did your passion for photography begin?

I really wanted to learn to draw but don't have the patience and took the easier road and bought a camera. That was about eight years ago and I have tried to develop a style of photography that appears to be black and white but on closer study has spots of colour. I think of it as part chiaroscuro. I also do explosions of colour out of the dark shot. This is taking city or townscapes at night when the shop, street and car lights cause a mass of colour especially if the ground is wet and it reflects along the street.

When did you realise that you could combine photography with your writing?

My favourite book is In The March And Borderland Of Wales: Shropshire, Herefordshire and Monmouth (1911) by Edwardian scholar A.G. Bradley. He relates a cycling trip along my beloved Shropshire-Welsh border, the Marche and it was illustrated by line drawings. I wanted to illustrate the title poem of my book with photographs but as the subjects are not realism I decided photographs being realistic would spoil it for the readers who have their own images of people and places. However, when my publisher Troubador told me I could have a section of colour plates I was elated. I have previously illustrated my essays for the New English Review with my own photographs.

What is next for you?

My next book is to be a collection of short epic poems rooted in tradition and history but appropriate for modern readers. They are stories with mythological elements and shorter than the long epics of Homer, Virgil and Dante and more accessible. I also have a book on my travels round England in mind, which will be copiously illustrated with photographs as it is realism.

Read the article here

Amazon.co.uk Reviews:

Rosey
As someone who is not a great reader of poetry, too many memories of difficult language at school, I was unsure about David Hamilton's offering 'King Alfred's Jewel'. But, there was no difficulty for me here. The lanuage was simple, yet effective, making the poetry easy to read and easy to enjoy. You will get swept up in the journey that feels like it is being read to you, it is so effortless. A must read for any poetry and photography fan.

Gemma
King Alfred’s Jewel, at least in the first poem, is a train of consciousness type of poem that I found incredibly moving and involving. But all of the poems, despite being based around outlaw legend, have that metaphoric feel to them that can be associated with our own journeys and struggles throughout our lives. The language used is both simplistic and simultaneously beautiful in description and verse. A short but terribly moving book that I for one will be going back and reading again.

From amazon.com

lynne
For me poetry always seemed like something that other people were in to but not something that was accessible to me. A friend of mine had read King Alfred’s Jewel and was pretty insistent I should as well so eventually I relented and bought a copy. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. It was easy to get into and easy to understand. The photography provides a nice counterpoint and I found myself quite wrapped up in the verse. I’d even go as far as to say I might even go on to read more poetry, but I’ll definitely read more by David Hamilton.

Caitlin Tull
I received a complimentary copy of this novel for an honest review from the publisher.
If you like poetry, this is for you. If you like photography, this is for you. I found the poetry simply lovely, with flowing, smooth verses. I could easily picture in my mind a scene, playing out quite like a movie. All in all, I enjoyed it, it's a short read, but not short on content, if that makes sense. Well done. Easily a four star read for me.

Nicole Moore
I was given a copy of this book by the publisher for an honest review.
From the moment I started reading, this book reminded me of college, in general, and writing papers for my various literature courses in general. That being said, I mostly still loved it. The poems, though stylistically similar to those of the distant past, are written in modern language. They are sophisticated and speak to the soul and the senses. There's a scholarly introduction and an appendix at the end wherein the author wraps his process. For poetry lovers, this will delight
For both lovers of folklore and those unfamiliar with it, King Alfred’s Jewel by David Hamilton is a great resource and experience to read. The collection of poems, which includes the main epic poem “Kind Alfred’s Jewel,” successfully combines a large range of allusions from medieval folklore into a comprehensive story. The book also presents a nice balance of action and exposition throughout its entirety—showcasing movement but also vivid descriptions. Simultaneously, King Alfred’s Jewel possesses bold qualities found in the fantasy and adventure genres but also gives its text moral character and rich imagery using figurative language. Hamilton also created small snippet ocusing on individual characters such as Robin Hood and Father Time, a format that I think merges traditional prose/storytelling with poetry quite well. Perhaps most impressive above all is the lack of repetitive diction. The whole poetry book always presents new material either via the plot, characters, metaphor, or allusions which displays the depth of research and though that the poet invested into his work. Lastly, through Hamilton’s meaningful verses, I enjoyed making connections between the individual poems and the overall theme: time.

HARIKA KOTTAKOTA for The Platinum Press

For both lovers of folklore and those unfamiliar with it, King Alfred’s Jewel by David Hamilton is a great resource and experience to read. The collection of poems, which includes the main epic poem “Kind Alfred’s Jewel,” successfully combines a large range of allusions from medieval folklore into a comprehensive story. The book also presents a nice balance of action and exposition throughout its entirety—showcasing movement but also vivid descriptions. Simultaneously, King Alfred’s Jewel possesses bold qualities found in the fantasy and adventure genres but also gives its text moral character and rich imagery using figurative language. Hamilton also created small snippet ocusing on individual characters such as Robin Hood and Father Time, a format that I think merges traditional prose/storytelling with poetry quite well. Perhaps most impressive above all is the lack of repetitive diction. The whole poetry book always presents new material either via the plot, characters, metaphor, or allusions which displays the depth of research and though that the poet invested into his work. Lastly, through Hamilton’s meaningful verses, I enjoyed making connections between the individual poems and the overall theme: time.

Reviewed in Dandelion Arts Magazine

King Alfred's Jewel: Poetry Of the Imagination and Imaginative Photography by David Hamilton. £12.99 ISBN 9781783065127

The book is divided into three sections with an introduction covering twenty pages. On secrtion one the reader is witnessing the first long poem King Alfred's Jewel(20 pages).

On section two The Journey( a 12 page poem) starting with “There is a way through mind not land that takes us to Hades as it was of yore”...

History, landscapes and philosophy are entwined until we get to section 3. Wolfshead”. A dramatic monologue and a continuous saga 55 pages long were Father Time, Robin Hood, Dick Turpin, and more are incorporated.

The book is illustrated with black and white and colour photographs.

The poetry pages seem to be talking to themselves, like ghosts in a sombre gathering, analysing psychological circumstances, step by step. In the 8 page “Appendix” the author wants to justify the influences that motivated the production of this book.

Students of literature and theatre would be awn by this work where famous characters in a very concentrated sequence of thoughts and events have been amalgamated with photography. It is not an average poetry collection.

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Di Donovan for MidWest Book Review

The poetry genre as a whole holds many avenues for display and understanding, a very long history of controversy, and much debate over its wellsprings of inspiration in psychology, literary influence, and social evolution. All this is covered in depth in an introduction which basically takes the genre's history and synthesizes its influences in a literary examination of poetry's evolution and philosophical influences.

It's unusual to see this kind of introduction in a collection anticipated to be free verse explorations of self; but then, this kind of opening should offer the idea that King Alfred's Jewel: Poetry of the Imagination and Imaginative Photography will be anything but your usual gathering of personal insights, offering something both extraordinary and a cut above the ordinary - and in this, it does not disappoint.

King Alfred's Jewel is actually two long epic poems that sweep through themes of a journey undertaken and a jewel unearthed because of it. The book consists of two narrative poems and a dramatic monologue. The poems deal with depression and the Dark Night of the Soul, while the dramatic monologue presents deceased outlaws coming back to tell their stories on a May evening in Sherwood Forest. The title poem uses the imagery of journey and jewel as its shining light as it probes essences of spirituality and psychology, examining the sources of modern angst and depression and considering the stormy road to spiritual and emotional redemption.

It's interesting to note that stanzas and poetic expression change throughout; from paragraphs of descriptions of history and place to more personal observations of belonging and close encounters with the world: "A little dog ran yapping through gravestones:/“Help, help, help,” it cried,/Like Joe Meek’s graveyard cat./We led it to the vicarage and an elderly lady took it in,/A faithful friend and alarm against intruders./If only humans had hearts like dogs."

There are dragons and inheritances, outlaw legends and metaphors that connect past to present, and streams of consciousness impressions. In choosing these particular formats and weaving a cloak of inspection, history and psychological depth, King Alfred's Jewel is actually much more accessible - despite its lengthy presentations - than one would expect, making it a recommendation for readers who might normally consider the poetic form too constrained, too regulated, and too inaccessible.

King Alfred's Jewel is a delight on many levels. Add black and white photos throughout and a selection of color photos by the author, which act as both illustration and interlude to the written word, and you have a collection that stands out in the genre: something firmly rooted in literary, historical, spiritual and psychological traditions, but most definitely more than the sum of its parts.

Rreview in Aristrokatia an Australian magazine
David Hamilton King Alfred’s Jewel:
Poetry of the Imagination and Imaginative Photography

King Alfred’s Jewel commences with an in-depth analysis of a diverse selection of poetry ranging from Wordsworth to Elliot. Hamilton here raises the erudite point that “New literary movements announce their arrival by denouncing the contemporary orthodoxy.”[1] Even in traditional forms of art and literature, even a vague nuance has to eventually occur lest the style itself becomes stagnant. However slight the transition though, to a certain extent there is always at least a covert or furtive denunciation of the older form. After Wordworth’s influence over the Romantic generation, Hamilton leads us onto Shelley, whose ideas were indeed quite radical for the time and he was expelled from Oxford for his pamphlet “The Necessity of Atheism” an attack on religion in five tracts.[2] Later the reader is then introduced to Eliot who drew his main inspiration from the fin-de-siècle irony of Laforgue, the symbolism of Rimbaud, Mallarmé, Verlaine, and Baudelaire.[3] Hamilton reminds us that,

Inspiration is from the Latin inspirare, ‘to breathe into’ is a burst of artistic, literary or poetic creativity that is not consciously controlled. Stream of consciousness is regarded as individual psychology, but inspiration, as divinely received. To the ancient Greeks, inspiration or enthusiasm was sent by the Muses and the gods Apollo and Dionysus. In the old Norse religions, inspiration came from gods like Odin. John Milton prayed nightly to God for inspiration. [4]

Following this, the main part of the book commences, beginning with the piece the book is named after, King Alfred’s Jewel. The poem is a long and epic piece, beginning a touch of national sentiment, and then taking the reader on a long spiritual odysseys, though dimly lit corridors, until finally the light appears. To set the tone of the poem, we quote the opening passage below.

Once upon a time, many years ago,
The prophet of the morning,
The star of hope, appeared to the
Wild Woman of Oteley, telling of how,
In days to come, an eagle soaring aloft
Would lose a feather from a golden wing,
And who saw it downward spiralling,
Glinting in the early sun, should follow,
Where it touched and the way it pointed,
To seek King Alfred’s Jewel [5]

This piece is followed by The Journey, which takes the reader on a soul searching through claustrophobic catacombs. As with King Alfred’s Jewel the underlying force is the ‘rebirth archetype’, which consists of death, and consequently, rebirth. Both pieces serve as metaphors for the superficial and soullessness of modernity. This is immediately apparent in the following extract.

Stumbling through the brake in a turgid gloom,
Choking in the thick atmosphere.
As above cawing crows, and ravens croaked
Warnings of impending death.
Impending death! What is this? I asked.
“This the dark tunnel all must travel,” they told.
“When you leave, you will ascend to the spheres,
By the sun, breathing pure air.” [6]

This is followed by the epic Wolfshead, a dramatic monologue with the opening setting in Sherwood Forrest. The palinode in Wolfshead was consciously influenced by my recollections of the palinode of Troilus in Geoffrey Chaucer’s Troilus and Cresseyde. Aside from the obvious references to Robin Hood, the piece also features a number of other references to British history and mythology, as we see here with the reference to Jack-in-the-Green.

He wears all green bedecked
With symbols of life and
Renewal, on his garb:
A Phoenix rising from flames,
A Red Admiral flying from the
Chrysalis, a flower bursting
From the bud, an egg cracking
Open, a chick emerging.
I am the verdant time of the year,
And drove away the snows and ice
For the new year to begin. Our world
Has to live again, awaken from winter
Slumbers, shake off sheets of glassy ice
And push life forward when my cycle comes
Back, in autumn, the trees and bushes will be shorn
Of leaves. Snow and ice blanket the earth while life rests
Before May comes again. When hoar frosts cast great spectral
Beauty on trees, bushes, and shrubs, harsh winter comes, creeping
Close behind, on deft toes. [7]

The book then draws to a close with an explanation of the author’s use of style, composition and influences. Over all the book has a very ‘British’ vibe to it, and is recommended for anyone with an interest in European poetry.

[1] David Hamilton, King Alfred’s Jewel: Poetry of the Imagination and Imaginative Photography, 5.
[2 ] Ibid., 7.
[3] Ibid., 12.
[4] Ibid., 23.
[5] Ibid., 25.
[6] Ibid., 27.
[7] Ibid., 65.

id., 65.

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