In The Sugar Mile, Maxwell returns to the extended verse narrative he so brilliantly employed in Time's Fool, to juxtapose two cities on the brink of irrevocable change. Glyn Maxwell is a British poet who lives in the States. The Sugar Mile is his eight collection. It takes place over the weekend of 8th and 9th September 2011 and Saturday 7th September 1940. The sugar mile refers to the Tate and Lyle factory in London which was bombed during the blitz.
The Sugar Mile is a story of a man in a Manhattan bar following 9/11 who reminisces about being a child during the London Blitz in WWII. The story is told in a series of individual poems by individual characters. Each character's story is told in a different style and meter. I bought this book based on an interview I heard with the author. Full disclosure: I took a workshop with Glyn Maxwell and found him to be a thoroughly pleasant and extremely interesting, surprising person. So I was predisposed to enjoy this book, and I did. This book is challenging. The greatest part of the book is in the sections set during the Blitz. The takeaway for me was what it's like to be immersed in the devastation of attack; there are marvelous descriptions of behaviors of many different types of people. The book is free of the author's telling what is happening; his characters show.
Glyn Maxwell is the author of a new collection of poems, Pluto (Picador).
In his poem, 'Musée des Beaux Arts', Auden wrote of how we do not always recognise or even notice the tragedies of others, and that perhaps this is a necessary indifference. A passing ship must have seen Icarus fall, but 'had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on'. Glyn Maxwell's new long poem, The Sugar Mile, also probes this question of how cataclysmic events are painted onto the canvas of a life. The poem concerns three characters in a New York bar on Broadway and 86th, between 8 and 9 September 2001
In The Sugar Mile, Maxwell returns to the extended verse narrative he so brilliantly employed in Time's Fool, to juxtapose two cities on the brink of irrevocable change. The Sugar Mile begins when the poet steps into an uptown Manhattan bar a few days before September 11, 2001. He is confronted by Joseph Stone, a barstool regular and a fellow expatriate. What a mess the young man's made.
The Sugar Mile: Poetry Glyn Maxwell Mariner Books Paperback 146 pages November 2006. Glyn Maxwell’s The Sugar Mile is a unique exploration in poetry. Without spoiling the continuing story in the book, the crux of what is going to happen in New York and its effects on the city, the nation, and even the world, is explicitly conveyed in the poem Raul Fixing A Cosmopolitan. The final stanza in this poem foreshadows the blistering drama about to take place in NYC.
Enter the English poet Glyn Maxwell, who in his eighth book, "The Sugar Mile," tells a story that moves between two countries and two wars, employs a complicated narrative structure and involves a cast of a dozen or so people. None of this will be a surprise to anyone who has followed Maxwell's work; it is consistently focused on characters and events outside the self, and is very accomplished in terms of craft.