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John Oughton : Comments by Writers and Critics

Selected Comments

Gearing of Love (1984)

"Oughton's own photographs, interspersed through the book, nicely complement the text. I get the impression of a poet who has bided his time, who has not struggled unduly for profundity, and who has consequently written a ccessible, refreshing poetry, poetry that a wide range of readers could enjoy. In my estimation, this is a worthwhile achievement."
                     —Sheldon Fischer

"You've too many good poems for me to individually select the best among them. Your level of accomplishment throughout is very high, but what grabs me the most is the humanity and insight they show. Unlike so many of your contemporaries, you're really trying to say something - and for the most part, succeeding beautifully."
                     —Irving Layton

Mata Hari's Lost Words (1988)

"From orphaned childhood through married life in Java to her heyday as celebrated exotic dancer and courtesan, Mata Hari's Lost Words tells the story of this very accomplished woman (she spoke five languages), who made her own way in a male-dominated society. At its best, it allows one more woman to rise above the burden of her mythology, to exist in a language of the heart and the spirit."
                     —Lesley McAllister, NOW Magazine

"Oughton's imagery mirrors Hari's Baudelairian aesthetics: "since I have beauty, the other virtues can wait. In "Salome," Oughton, in lines of baroque beauty, has Hari fancy herself a goddess of seduction… In "trial by Tongues", the finest poem in the sequence, he has her play an ironic femme fatale… Using recurrent metaphors of music, dance, stripping, and figureheads, Oughton reveals Hari to be a symbol of love betrayed, an apt Venus for our present fin-de-siècle."
                     — George Elliott Clarke

"Oughton's poems are solid, carefully accumulated patterns of words. The rhythms are built through phrasing - long runs of words, or short series of ascending steps. It is a poetry only rarely quotable in flashing lines but control is always felt. Its energy goes into conveying scenes and situations in concrete particulars. This poetic biography of Mata Hari may justly be compared with Gwendolyn MacEwen's acclaimed poem sequence of a few years ago on Lawrence of Arabia."
                     —Alan Thomas

"There is something wonderful about the words of a writer who creates from longstanding fascination, or obsession. That long period spent pondering the wonders of the legendary Mata Hari has given John Oughton a series of verses honed on time and the essence of legend and intrigue. The reader is alternately delighted and awed with poet's perception of Mata Hari as legend, as myth, as woman… How beautifully she shines in Oughton's pen"
                     —Maxine Tynes

John Oughton's works copyright © to the author.

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