Another week, another series of skies, clouds, light and imagination.

Manipulating surroundings to reflect emotions is one old hat, of course. As is the fact of feelings shaping our perception of our surroundings.

Exactly what’s started me ‘musing’ on poetry of place (or perhaps more accurately landscape) this week, I’m not sure. Perhaps it’s nothing more than the nebulous notion (nothing I can place my fingers on!) that somehow the world around us (permanent or temporary) always carries our life’s stories in its contours. It’s how to hear them I tend to find difficult. That and the circularity of meaning lying in the interpretation.

And there I am again, playing with words and abstractions. Perhaps these pictures will make it clearer.


Or not? Sometimes its hard to find words that will add anything to what is already seen. Sometimes even the mere attempt seems to actually detract from the original. Of course, there is always the possibility of not revealing the original, not forcing the words to stand up against the picture/original. Yet I’ve always a sense that is somehow cheating, however much I feel the alternative (placing the two side by side) is almost, if not always, inevitable failure.

All this does make me think about the Modernists, amongst many other things! But rather than get caught up in verbal distractions and a prolonged interior academic dialogue about various schools, I’d like to try to sense and/or imagine my way out of this, hopefully, maybe, one day…perhaps.

Meanwhile, I was delighted this week to find two of my poems up on the Royal Philharmonic society website, along with a videopoem version of one of them. Both poems were written (and inspired) as part of the Manchester writing School and RPS ‘Did I hear that?’ music as inspiration project, which was very enjoyable to take part in. (un)bespoken is also included in my collection Be[yond].

My boys having finally returned to school after the summer break, the past few days have been full of re-assessing projects and deadlines, with lots of exciting stuff coming up.

I have also been enjoying some ‘peace’ and reading time. Amongst these books and pamphlets:

Alison Gibb’s Silent Diagrams (Knives, Forks and Spoons Press) – this pamphlet of various different pencil drawings over one poem is visually attractive and intriguing. It is also an interesting and revelatory reading experience, as the various arrangements of pencil lines slant light and attention onto different textual lines.

Evelyn Posamentier’s POLAND AT THE DOOR (Knives, Forks and Spoons Press) is full of atmosphere, mystery and simultaneities. Firstly, it feels like a long sequence pamphlet, but at 48 pages is also simultaneously almost close to a short full collection, in length at least. It also reads, to me at least, as a piece simultaneously set in Poland’s tumultuous past history and a not-entirely-tied-down present.

The fact that a precise, logical, narrative or plot is hard to pin down, combined with the repetition of various phrases (including the hammering/knocking title POLAND AT THE DOOR) creates a very engaging atmosphere of tension, clarity within confusion, and urgency. It also contains some stunningly arresting and intriguing individual lines/clusters, including the opening, “stars without handrails”. And just two more of many other possible examples: “the moon remembers nothing” and “the clouds with their sky | press against the door”.

Matt Merritt’s The Elephant Tests (Nine Arches Press) is an engaging title for an engaging collection. The poems manage that wonderful trick of being at the same time very accessible yet still enigmatic/full of mystery and surprise. Tension, atmosphere, life, living, spirituality are all in here. Also humour, and down-to-earth colloquialisms alongside strikingly beautiful poetic imagery.

I started sticky-noting my favourite poems, only to realise fairly quickly that there were very few pages I wasn’t marking. Picking out individual lines to quote is also tricky in a collection where I find that I actually want to include the whole poem. In fact, probably most accurate to say the whole collection.

To end, therefore, I’m going to settle simply (and by no means at all representatively for a collection which should be enjoyed in its entirety) for extracting one short snippet that particularly resonates with me today: “go | against that haunted, hangdog flow” (Six Ways to Navigate the City).

Finally, to rap up today’s blog post, from my personal reading of other poets’ work on the page to reading aloud from my own collection, alongside other page and performance poets. Yes, that is a reminder about the Droitwich launch of my latest collection Be[yond] this coming Saturday. Full details can be found in my news section. I am simultaneously both excited and nervous about the event but very much looking forward to catching up with friends. It would be great to see you there, if you can make it.