Gavin Ewart David Howarth - Essay

David Howarth

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[Ewart] is a joker, taking the piss out of everyone and himself and doing it better than competently. In Pleasures of the Flesh, with a poem called 'Short Time', he manages to deflate even "… the gentle hypocrite reader." He also analyses, very comically, certain sexual "types". The series 'Eight Awful Animals', describing fauna with names like "Panteebra" and "Stuffalo", is a wonderful classification of stereotypes, from the butch lesbian to the exclusive masturbator. In The Deceptive Grin … it is the advertising industry, the rat-racers and the slogan-mongers who come in for it. The Gavin Ewart Show is catholic. (p. 64)

[He] claims to be the inventor of the "ewart" (sic!) or count-down poem, where the unrhymed stanzas have a line length of 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 (following John Cage into silence?) he is not so exclusive that he will not take a trick or two from O. Nash, W. Stevens and Wm. McGonagall. He is also the perpetrator of a very ugly-looking poem of three, eight-line stanzas in which every line, bar those at the ends of stanzas, ends with a split word….

[This] is poetry for the masses and excellent too: a proof that the élite and the popular may be reconciled. I showed the book to a friend who "… loves no plays … hears no music." and he enjoyed all that he was able to read in half-an-hour. (p. 66)

The book is in three parts (This being a show, why not "acts"?) and the first division looks arbitrary. I see no unity of theme...

(The entire section is 623 words.)