Around about this time of year I tend to come over all “Traditional” and start waxing lyrically about the “Good Ole Days”. This has a nasty tendency of leading to copious amounts of reminiscing, bouts of nostalgia and to staring off vacantly into the distance. Luckily it is fairly easy to ward off with a stiff drink (thank you mine’s a whisky), and a large bucket of cold facts, statistics and pretty much anything I can tie a number to and mumble obliquely whilst slumped on a barstool.
In the light of that, I thought I would use this as an opportunity to find out what the 2012 top posts were. With the aim of seeing if they corresponded with my own opinion of how The Parrish Lantern is perceived and how it should evolve from this point. Although I have my own favourite posts, I thought I would use the same technique I used last year and base it on the number of visits a post got, with this slight proviso, in that I would take the number of comments made on each post into the equation, as I realised whilst doing this that sometimes a post with the most comments wasn’t necessarily the most visited. So, starting with January here are The Parrish Lanterns top posts as voted by who………..You?
January’s top post fits in perfectly with one of the aims I had for The Parrish Lantern, which was to continue promoting Poetry & to increase its presence on this site. The top post was The Best British Poetry 2011, this wonderful anthology was edited by Roddy Lumsden and published by Salt, a fantastic independent publisher who punches well above their size, even having a book Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2012. In second place is one of my favourite books of the last few years Jun’ichiro Tanizaki’s - In Praise of Shadows , although this eloquent strange book is primarily an essay on the Japanese sense of beauty, it is also an act of meditation and an elegy to a culture he perceived to be receiving it’s last rites, making it part clarion call, part last post.
February saw even more poetry reaching the top spot with a poem I wrote for my wife Valentines Day (Twelve Roses) - back in our courting days, hitting the number one position and the second position jointly shared by a book of poetry by the Austrian born poet Erich Fried and a book set around the bombing of Hiroshima by Masuji Ibuse, although to be fair Ibuse is just ahead on comments making Black Rain, second and Fried’s Love Poems a respectable third.
March’s top two represent exactly the type of literature I love featuring on The Parrish Lantern, the number one post was a historical post, this one based on early Japanese Science Fiction & was inspired by The Best Japanese Science Fiction Stories anthology. In the number two position was probably my favourite of 2012, I say probably because it has to vie for that position with at least one other, in second place From The Mouth Of The Whale, apart from being a wonderful book, this placed The Parrish Lantern on the international stage through my involvement with a wonderful group of bloggers who, under the leadership of Stu (Winstonsdad), made up The Independent Foreign Fiction Prize Shadow Jury – thanks Stu.
April was another exciting month for my blog, with all three posts again promoting literature on an international stage. In first place was my interview with Andrés Neuman, the author of the wonderful novel Traveller of the Century, in second place was my report on my World Book Night Experience and in third, based purely on the number of comments, is another IFFP shadow jury post Seven Houses in France - Bernardo Atxaga.
May. In the top position for May, was the wonderful novel whose author I interviewed in April. Traveller of the Century by Andrés Neuman, is a book about which I said “Attempting to pin down & define all that goes on in this book isn’t easy, as I said in my interview it seems to encompass everything – Do you like Philosophy✓, History✓, Politics✓, Romance✓, Translation✓, Poetry✓,” Just behind this is Everyday by Lee Rourke, a fantastic collection of tales, which I managed to describe as a combination of Camus, Sisyphus and a spilt kebab. Again this month we have a third position because of the number of comments it got, this was the post on official winner of the IFFP.
June saw two posts that again define my own perception of The Parrish Lantern, the first was one I described as a very brief image of the history of Japanese poetry in the post-war period. In the second position was a celebration of one of my favourite writer’s (Lawrence Durrell) centenary year. This totally surprised me because if it was based purely on comments this post would not have featured in any list, so the fact that it’s here has pleased me immensely.
JULY featured a writer known more for his prose writing, than his poetry, Across the Land and the Water–W.G. Sebald, was a collection of poetry, stretching over 37 years and contains many of the themes (borders, journeys, archives, landscapes, reading, time, memory, myth, legend etc.), that would be recognised in his later acclaimed work. Just behind this was The Car Thief by Theodore Weesner, a blunt & harsh tale of one individual trapped in a world not of their own making, with seemingly no way out.
August’s post combined two of my favourite obsessions, poetry & Japanese writing, as the first position was taken by The Art of Haiku - Its History through Poems and Paintings by Japanese Masters written by Stephen Addiss. This was a fascinating read on a subject I knew little about. Although I have a small amount of knowledge on Italian poetry I wasn’t aware of this writer’s oeuvre until I started researching for the second place book this month, Requiems & Nightmares: Selected Short Fiction of Guido Gozzano.
September’s top post was a book given to me by the wonderful Istros Books, one of the new small Independent publishing houses that have sprung up in the last few years, with the aim of filling in the gaps often left by the larger publishing houses. The director took a chance and sent me this book after I cheekily asked for it, the book being Definitions by Octavian Paler, one of my favourite poetry books of the year. The book in second place showed me a side of Japan, that I had no knowledge of & by a new to me writer, The Cape and Other Stories from the Japanese Ghetto by Kenji Nakagami.
October. The Summer My Father Died by Yudit Kiss, is a memoir about love, family love, which makes this a warm beautiful tale full of poetic insight, written by someone with a love of the written word. It also contains a set of author’s notes, containing anthologies where you can find English translations of the Hungarian poetry contained within the pages of the book, a resource I shall be mining for years. In second place is a book that is part manga, part poetry collection, based partly around Miyamoto Musashi’s The Book of Five Rings, Soul of a Warrior by Clash of Weapons, was a first for me & an idea I will hopefully see more of.
November saw two books whose subject was art, in first place Still started out as a photographic exhibition, before becoming a collection of short stories by some of the best short story writers around. The book (Sea Of Ink ~ Richard Weihe) in second place is about how how Zhu Da, the prince of Yiyang, distant descendant of the Prince of Ning, the seventeenth son of the founder of the Ming dynasty, became Bada Shanren, widely regarded as the leading painter of the early Qing dynasty and who would still be influencing artists centuries later.
December’s top post was on a book, that I’ve been reading on and off for a while now, and which caused me some confusion. Easter Rabbit, is a collection of microfiction, that could easily be described as prose poetry and which by it’s very brevity leaves you with more questions than answers, that leaves you to ponder each tale. In second place was another new to me writer, Niven Govinden, with his brilliant book Black Bread White Beer.
This leaves me with the question of what were the top five posts of this year. In keeping with tradition in reverse order are:
Which leaves me with the only thing left to do is to announce the winner…………………………..
The winner of The Parrish Lantern’s 2012 top post of is The Best British Poetry 2011.
For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
Best Wishes for 2013 to all who follow & comment on The Parrish Lantern.