Smart Barker is putting the finishing touches on its new record, Triumvirate—Falgie, Graybill, Robinson. The idea behind the record is to capture what we really sound like—especially since our last two albums feature pretty elaborate arrangements and songs that we can’t play. It’s a mix of songs from the MDP era (albums soon to be rebranded under the new name), with more from the first record, What Is All This Sweet Work Worth?, because we made that before Bob joined the band. There are a few surprising re-arrangements and a couple of interesting covers—including a tribute to another power trio (“triumvirate” get it?) The Police. The track listing is as follows:

  1. Heathen Eden
  2. Truth Hits Everybody
  3. Brain!
  4. Perfect Breasts
  5. My Head Is Bowed
  6. Only Son
  7. Nude For Satan
  8. The Gods Have Given Up On Immortality | We Belong Together
  9. Theodicy Club
  10. Have You Been Around?
  11. Coward Of The Conscience
  12. Not To Talk

No overdubs, warts and all, recorded in Bob’s basement, Triumvirate actually sounds great—like a band re-energized and ready to conquer the world!

Still mixing, but soon.

William Wordsworth in Context

During all this promotion for The Oxford Handbook of William Wordsworth, I should give a shout-out to Andrew Bennett’s competing volume from Cambridge UP—William Wordsworth in Context. It has an impressive roster of contributors and not too much overlap. Buy both!

Here is the complete table of contents. I’m pleased that I was able to come up with some fresh commentary on the sonnet. Many thanks to the editor, Andrew Bennett, for inviting me to contribute. And be sure to read his excellent survey of criticism in The Oxford Handbook of William Wordsworth.


Part I. Life and Works:
1. Biography Stephen Gill
2. The Wordsworth circle Susan M. Levin
3. Dorothy Wordsworth Judith W. Page
4. Composition and revision Sally Bushell
5. Prose Tim Milnes

Part II. Reception and Influence:
6. The critical reception, 1793–1806 David Higgins
7. The critical reception, 1807–18 Peter Simonsen
8. The critical reception, 1819–50 Richard Cronin
9. English poetry, 1900–30 Michael O’Neill
10. Wordsworth now Maureen N. McLane

Part III. Literary Traditions:
11. Eighteenth-century poetry Kevis Goodman
12. The ballad tradition Daniel Cook
13. The pastoral-georgic tradition David Fairer
14. The popular tradition Ann Wierda Rowland
15. Elegy Paul H. Fry
16. The sonnet Daniel Robinson
17. Autobiography Josh Wilner
18. Epitaphs and inscriptions Samantha Matthews
19. Sensibility, sympathy and sentiment James Chandler

Part IV. Cultural and Historical Contexts:
20. Revolution John Bugg
21. Poverty and crime Toby Benis
22. Europe Michael Ferber
23. War Simon Bainbridge
24. Nature and the environment Scott Hess
25. London Christopher Stokes
26. Family and friendship Anne D. Wallace
27. Education Frances Ferguson
28. Animals Kurt Fosso
29. Philosophy Stuart Allen
30. Religion Jonathan Roberts
31. The senses Noel Jackson
32. Language Alexander Regier
33. The sublime Philip Shaw
34. Walking and travel Robin Jarvis
35. Painting, spectacle and the visual Sophie Thomas

Further reading

Early Reviews of The Oxford Handbook of William Wordsworth

A couple of lovely reviews of the Handbook have been published. Richard and I are grateful for such positive notices!

From a deeply appreciative review written by the distinguished scholar Leslie Brisman, Karl Young Professor of English at Yale:

. . . like Coleridge, I was aware of having sat through a long and overwhelmingly wondrous experience that touched me as very few works of secondary literature ever have.

For essay after essay shows how the best of Wordsworth criticism seems to lose its secondariness and become part of the adventure in the growth of the poet’s mind–an adventure that was Wordsworth’s own preoccupation and achievement.

Read the entire review here.

From the Review of English Studies an exceptionally eloquent, thorough, and incisive description of the book by Jessica Fay, University of Bristol—a review so substantial in its grasp of such a massive volume that it resists blurbing—so here is an excerpt:

While some individual chapters would be perfect for undergraduate reading lists (Nicholas Roe’s biographical summary for Wordsworth’s early life is the foremost example), this volume is primarily aimed at scholars and postgraduate students. As such, several essays reflect deepening critical interest in the poet’s later work; for example Daniel Robinson’s focus on The River Duddon, Peter J. Manning’s discussion of later narrative poems including ‘The Russian Fugitive’, and Pamela Woof’s reading of a selection of Ecclesiastical Sketches and Italian Memorials. This book differs then from the pair of student-focused introductory studies that were published in 2010 by Emma Mason and Daniel Robinson respectively. And yet, for all of its chronological and thematic breadth, the Oxford Handbook demonstrates that the ‘Poem upon the Wye’ and ‘Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood’, which have been the crux of criticism for over 30 years, maintain principal position. Not only do these poems each have their own dedicated chapter (see the sections by Susan J. Wolfson and Michael O’Neil), but they are points of reference for almost every contributor. This shows that whilst Wordsworth scholarship has ventured beyond traditionally canonical texts, the governing questions are still those focused on memory, imagination, place, the mind, and nature. The prevalence of these key poems and themes also secures the utility of this Handbook for non-Wordsworthian Romanticists.

Um, subscribe to RES here?