he question of her hearing voices: no, not the whole Dauphin issue, but the sense that everything she met head on, or brushed by, or stopped to stare at, had, in its own damned way, something to articulate, that it did not keep these secrets to itself but revealed them, if only to her, though why she had been chosen was a deep, dark, oh how delicious mystery; that sense of selection – until she explored it wholly and found it blind chance, and even after that – made her feel special (how special? “I’m an ant carrying a diamond,” that special) and therefore obliged to poetise; but what she had imparted by these voices was the isolation and grandeur of buildings, to look up at each from flagstone level, as if each stood in a broad, flat desolation and rose in a harsh daylight to impress her with a strange geometry, each as if there were no ‘each’ but only one, each devoid of the come-and-go of people, not purposeless but a shell that signed its own purpose and had within it a labyrinth of meaning which, if she put her ear to this door or to that low casement, would whisper if not of the sea then
Possibly the most unusual review of one of my poetry books yet.
You’ll never believe me…I was waiting to Skype God. You can imagine the anxiety! I mean…the Almighty, the Alpha & the Omega, Tetragrammaton—YHWH. It was buffering his end, ringing out. There was a lot of eeking & blare. The postman dropped his delivery. I was gripped on what God was going to look like. I suspected a primate for some reason. Nothing ichthyic I thought, nor feline, leonine or arachnid. I was going primate. Still buffering I opened my mail. It was Marie Marshall’s T.S. Eliot Prize nominated I am not a Fish. I forgot all about my natter with God—what had he to do with me, now?
book is unlike anything. A mellifluous mash of hilarious, playful poems,
evading the reader whilst prodding with long boney digits of joy. There is
alchemy between word & imagination, infused with hallucinatory &
hypnotic substance, which sounds painful, but actually manifests…
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hen it seemed to her that her face began to be chased with a little age, she took to walks on the broad, long beach, to feel the wind-whipped sand take its tax of her bare legs, thinking that if she stood there forever, for ever, four (because she declared with stubbornness and against the weight of mathematics that eternity must be composed of equal and measureable segments, and even though she had been condemned wrong time after time she never ceased to employ this falsehood as a metaphor) ever, the process by which a grain took away a morsel of her and another clung to her meant that she was becoming less and less a carbon life form and more a silicon, and that a moment would come somewhere before oblivion when she would be totally transformed, would hang between the two, something between a being and a stone, and would have a deep truth if only for that sparking-point of transformation; thus only, it has to be said, until she felt cold, or the tug of obligation, or the shout of an impatient familial, or a dozen other banal discomforts, and went to find the shelter of pines where wind dropped, sand dried on her
“Why is the measure of love loss?”
Jeanette Winterson, Written on the Body.
I didn’t, I haven’t, I never did (she protests)
in each new moment the ‘most’ changes;
with mood, with weather, with time of day
and shade of light, with temperature, with
hungry or full, with sad or happy, with a
picture suddenly presented or found;
moments, we are made up of them, each
moment a dropped stone, each with its
outward ripples, each ripple crossing a new
ripple and jarring with it, each stone dropped
father upstream until the bulk of the ripples
are all downstream, kissing the relict banks;
the one who means the most is the one
I haven’t met yet (she protests) and she shall
be young, wrapped in a blanket, beside a beach
bonfire, looking dreamily out to sea even
though it’s night and she can’t see anything;
I’ll write poems to her (she declares), on her
back in lick and cast sand; I’ll fall asleep
against her, wake in the morning alone, finding
she has walked off, leaving me with ash and dawn
– she will have joined the downstream ripples,
the stones resting on the bed, and I will have
reached for the hand of that monster, loss
This was developed from a comment I left yesterday at Bittersweet Turns.
Back in 2010 (was it really that long ago?) I ran an experimental poetry project I called Lithopoesis. The concept was based on the idea of ancient stele, stone tablets crammed with text. I started to produce oblong texts in which ideas, images, and words circulated. The Lithopoesis project is still on line here, so please feel free to explore it. One of the first lithopoemai was the one reproduced on this page. It was inspired by, and written to compliment, the painting of the same name by Scottish artist Ken Currie. In a way, the Lithopoesis experiment had things in common with some of my more recent poetry. That’s one reason why I decided to post a reprise of it here. The other reason was that someone sent me a postcard from the National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh, of Ken Currie’s ‘Three Oncologists’, and that jogged my memory. Anyhow, I hope you enjoy today’s presentation. Sorry I have nothing new for you.
he became a slave to the sculpted moon, the pared and crafted face that navigated the rooftops, surveillant of her and her friends (whom she denominated Cossack, Kickapoo…), with whom she cappuccino’d and used the cups and cruet and odd jealous coins in a reimagination of Waterloo, an endless debate on any demonstrable subject, an ad hoc game of chess (“Is that plate a knight or a bishop?”), an exercise in obsessive compulsive symmetry, much to the complete chagrin of the manager of the tea shop; thus, by stages, she dipped into a phoney incarnation doomed to be her quotidian – it had other attendant stuff, issues, matters, a culture that held it – along with her work, in which figures danced to an unheard music, arcane bells and whistles, drumbeats a contra tiempo to her heart and to her taconeo as she walked from the carpark, lickety-spit in kitten heels and skirt, the damnable notes and their dynamics piled up during the hours of her rest and neglect making a cacophony of quarter-notes in a decimal scale from which she had to unpick order and beauty whilst sucking the blunt end of a pen, holding her breath, hunched; meanwhile, outside, the watcher in the sky sat its guard
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..the daylight, missed the cool gizmo
..and lost the motive mojo, a bit like
..the watchmender who, having fixed
..a half-hunter, found two left-out bits,
..but there’s the watch keeping time –
..she sits and wonders how the hell.
Please go and visit (and ‘like’) this piece of impact art.