Thursday, 11 January 2018

Another Year and Never Enough Poems

Another year ends and inevitably it finds me in reckoning up mode as I go forward into 2018.

Politics aside for the moment - the battle for something as simple as the advancement of human welfare never ceases and I have already said a great deal on the matter - there is never enough time for poetry. By that, I mean there is never enough time to write it and never enough time to read it. I am hungry and I like to feast deeply, so whilst the festive period might bring me several much wanted collections - for which, thanks - there is far too much going on all around me...

...unless you get flu...

                                     ...which I did.

Out came the 'poorly blanket' I'd spent the previous twenty years knitting (which probably marks the last time I had flu) and out came the pile of books saved for just such an occasion. Except that this year's flu is a bit like being hit over the head with a cast iron frying pan and left for dead. All I could do was lie there looking at the pile of books...

I managed to crawl out of my pit to conduct a fabulous wedding in the grounds of Minster Lovell and, after a surprise snowfall, this was particularly splendid, but after that I was good for nothing.

Despite this, Sophie Herxheimer's Velkom to Inklandt was just the kick-start I needed. This is poetry that absolutely demands to be read aloud (packets of Jakemans and Potter's Cough Remover) in order to get every nuance. It's a delight and it is highly original. Interspersed between poems that are poignant and intimate are Herxheimer's exquisite paper cuts and these are also intimate. Several poets, including myself, are considering the significance of objects in relation to their owners at the moment. Personal possessions say so much about human vulnerability. This is a book to treasure and share.

I am looking forward to reading Ocean Vuong's Night Sky with Exit Wounds this year and (hint) I'm desperately hoping someone has bought this for me. I'm looking forward to reading more of Jack Underwood's work, too.

The latest issue of Magma has been an inspiration and a revelation. Magma is unique in that it has a rotating editorship. It is also unique in that it is the first written word magazine (to my knowledge) to explore D/deaf poetry. If you have never come across D/deaf poetry before, here are my recommendations:

Ksenia Balabina

Donna Williams

Clearly, this is going to be a year in which language becomes increasingly important for me. I have always felt that there is a synaesthetic connection between words and their reception. The more textured and various my vocabulary becomes, the wider my scope and terms of reference. Rosamund Taylor says in 'Sheep's Head Peninsula' -

So many words are wrong:
the closed letters of dog - dog
is mouth and paw against my leg;
the heaviness of home - home is circles
It is not enough to know my own language. There are as many ways of listening as there are of seeing or feeling or tasting. Take bread, the feel of the word in your mouth. Take brot, painbánh mì, akara, chleb, rooti. Roll them around. Know their weight and their texture. Take BSL now.

Doesn't that taste different, too? There is no hierarchy of bread. It is ridiculous to assume one.

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