The Poet Who Cried Woolf

A week or so ago I posted this: an excerpt of a Bulgarian poem, followed by a set of questions. Here are the answers.

The words, as you have probably guessed for yourselves, were written by Tomas Lurgsy during his increasingly notorious ‘London period’ in the late 1970s. Increasingly notorious, you say? Well yes, I do. And if you don’t believe me, I invite you to peruse the contents of Ivor Bellinson’s new book, A Bulgarian in the British Museum: Tomas Lurgsy and London –  by far the most comprehensive study of Lurgsy’s London years (albeit the only one, to date).

Not that I need Bellinson to supply me with the facts I already know. Such as the fact that, contrary to popular opinion, only sixty percent of the poems Lurgsy wrote in London were written in English (a lot of critics still believe that all of them were). Or the fact that all of his poems from this period are jam-packed with subtle allusions to English writers, from G K Chesterton to Virginia Woolf.

Indeed, it is Woolf whom he invokes in this very excerpt. The image of a woman retrieving a ‘sheaf of paper’ from a dungy midden is quite clearly inspired by events occuring within the pages of Woolf’s 1928 biography, Orlando. Biography, you say? Oh yes. Though some are still wont to call it a novel, there is to me little doubt that Woolf’s work is a well-researched piece of non-fiction; a factually accurate retelling of the long and strange career of the eponymous hero/heroine.

That Lurgsy should have referred to Woolf’s work comes as little surprise, as he was living at this time in the area known as Bloomsbury. Having said that, this is (so far as I know) one of only two Woolf allusions, the other appearing in his 1978 work, Laura, Large on the Grass. This is typical: Lurgsy rarely echoed the work of other writers more than a couple of times – with the exception of John Webster, to whom he alluded fourteen times within a series of poems written across in a week towards the end of 1979 (‘Webster Week’ as Bellinson calls it, somewhat predictably).


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