JUDY KRAVIS

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Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Ivy and Stevie by Kay Dick
Novel on yellow paper by Stevie Smith

Re-immersing in Stevie Smith after a day in the wood is un plaisir de choix, loamish and endless, a patois of leaf mould and rabbits: life is enemy territory, you know. Stevie in interview is like Stevie on her own pages: wilful, willing, honest, integral as a stick of Brighton rock.

Stevie Smith was too diffuse when I was 20 something, too easy yet obscure, a forward-looking girl who doesn't stay where she is.
That's on days when I am one big bounce, and have to go careful then not to be a nuisance. But later I get back to my own philosophical outlook that keeps us all kissable. 
My mother said I might enjoy German lieder when I was older, and she was right. Around the same time Stevie Smith came back into view, and I read Novel on yellow paper every few years after that, the way you revisit a bay where you swam as a child, though you didn't know it then, that you were a child, or what swimming was, or that later you'd remember swimming here, running down at low tide and then swimming, whatever swimming was, through seaweed, jellyfish, over molluscs towards firm sand.

Stevie Smith re-read Racine's Ph├Ędre over and over. She dives into Racine's elegant lines and few words, his Phaedra and her implacable gods, her tragic simplicity; unlike Stevie's own life, which ran on its own eagerness and common sense, depreciating, negating, compensating, composting, singing, almost.

Edith Sitwell's English Eccentrics sits on my desk with a mix of Michaux, Sebald, Heraclitus, The Pillow Book, Steinberg, Buzzi and the Collins guide to Cacti & Succulents. Reading syncopation. If there ever was a beat to be off. Or a small beat running on, like Pompey in Novel on yellow paper, like Stevie in interview, leaning on the ordinary, kiddo, picking up the obvious from behind, oh.
At Felixstowe dinner is on a higher plane. Very spiritual. With pink Shape to follow, very Platonic. Like it was a This World carbon copy of A Great Idea.

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