Sunday, 12 November 2017

Voronezh Notebooks

Mandelshtam again,
from book III, translated by Andrew Davis:

I'll sketch this out, I'll say this quietly -
Because its moment is still not evident:
The game of the unconscious sky will be
Accomplished later, with experience...

And beneath the time-soaked sky
Of Purgatory, we frequently forget
That  the blessed storehouse of the heavens
Is our home, limitless and present.

That last phrase may have heaven as "the lifelong house" of our consciousness, in David McDuff's translations. 

It is difficult to get the form from the translations, I'd gather the writing, rich in technique, is peppered with alliteration, thickened by rhymes and assonance, probably with its social reference too, even if Mandelstam never got the tone in trying to atone for his attacks on Stalin. 

All that aside, without Russian we can still enjoy the high points of the verse in their un-apparelled meaning.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Chops II

Less chops than scraps, and scraps of thought at that, the least part of reactions this last day or two to my haul of books – in any bookshop's poetry section I'll snap up Mandelstam – the series does not work. 
Notebooks keep the random lines one wouldn’t want to throw away in case they turn to something more, and if they did exceed their start then still they fail to be word exercise equivalent to the musician’s daily chops, even wishing to suggest it, suggests too much. There will be no trays of snacks in rhyme for this perpetually hungry blog.  Comments…  ach.

The plash and Walkman
                   of the perennial Redgrove
                                      groping with lingam and yonii
in ancient, undoubtedly beautiful caverns
                   wet in the ever so slow movements
                                      of his latest book was penned in
somewhere near Kingston on Thames
                   where I also lived sometimes
                                      fifteen years ago.


In English twice translated, more,
from initial thought, completed
to conversations with his wife;
the resultant verse on paper
was inevitably half opaque
but Osip shines, he shines.


Saturday, 30 September 2017

The Writers' Room


The Writers Room,  with Dom, Kim and Eley recorded last Thursday. The programmes will be broadcast on Corinium Radio website for two weeks commencing 23.10.17 Mon, Wed, Fri. 2pm on the first week and 2.30pm the second week.  CORINIUM RADIO 
Two poems uploaded on Facebook page, and YouTube: "A Kiss" and "Landing" all a bit gravelly, but okay!

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Chops I


Self Portrait as Philologist Imbiber

Plunged again into the heart of the matter, into the heart’s red core,
by Liardet, his Self Portrait as Shamdeo – which I read as Shenandoah –

Talking to his Future Self, with sorrow and ferocity, once more, the old
antagonists. I have put waterlily and jasmine in my hair, recall 

from ancient texts, we’re shaped by demons of the earth and air,
image of a god removed far from the natural order of the world, 

far from oblivion and, old or young, demons to the last resent our
kindling of opposites to stoke a flame, to reignite the spark within

and rise above the salty realm of Yaldabaoth, Sophia’s vain dream.
Dust devils of our whirring words emerge from every source,

spoken funnels of an arid wind have turned among Rome’s garden,
ruined, patrol the broken Parthenon; with genius of purpose

skim across or stagger on the path, lifting all beneath them,
dust or flame raised up and held apart, in centrifugal strain

like thought’s internal conflict, as we live and breathe, step by,
avoid their minor, blinding squalls which scribble in the wind

and recognised the generations’ words run deep, listen to them.
Ghosts of every age conclude the same: ragged old men, be cautious.


I doubt Tim Liardet would bat an eyelid at my using a poem from his recent volume The World Before Snow as a kicking off point for this  practice piece – Chops: good for a blog that needs feeding. I was struck by Liardet’s earlier collection, The Storm House: serious and disturbing. He is an examplar of the craft.  The lines above may gradually become a kind of shallow imitation - which suits the subject matter rather well.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Sigurd and the nuthatch


Sigurd and the nuthatch, an extravagant take on the Norse Myths, wins second place in the annual competition at the Festival of Firsts  in the Wirral – prize giving on Sunday afternoon, 09 July. I am pleased to have an affirmation of this poem, besides stretching the limits, it also includes everything it can from the original tale.  Perhaps there is a bent for the old stories at the Festival, I hope so. Anyway, I'll be reading, one kenning included.  
Also this week:  a poem included in the Ver Poets Comp. Anthology 2017, out in July
AND a poem on the theme of shoes, to be included in the inaugural edition of the Northampton Poetry Review to be launched this summer by poet, Tom Harding.   The day's so hot right now.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Illustrated man


First of three illustrations of poems from Pilgrim Station in ink, by Dan Jackson.
There is a man in the tub
    the taps are running
    the tears are running

he's pouring water on his head
like an animal that burrows,
like a savage in the dirt
escaping from the world,
crouched, rocking back and forth,
scooping soil loose enough
to pull the earth above him
or like the flightless, desert bird,
    burying his head

    wishing he were dead.