Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Peter Reading's Stet (Secker & Warburg, 1986)

It's interesting to go back and read Stet (1986) and find the same concerns and methods I had become acquainted with in Reading's later poetry. It's a slim volume of a single poem in multiple voices and hence registers, so it's hard to excerpt. Here, though, are three passages I love. 

              Engines cut out, thick snow dumbed harmonious
              doves numbed in frozen postures of flight and we
                    found in the eerie too-bright morning
                         rhubarb leaves crusting the ice-whorled window.


             [Don't go out there--you'll all catch your death of it,
              sinister twits are in the ascendancy.
                     Plump up a stanza, close the brackets,
                            snuggle down into a cosy re-draft . . . ]


          Mirage of tangible air, heat-rippled pollened and sweet,

rises as if seen through gently vibrated cellophane, out of

          pub garden well-tended beds. Blaze of a mid-day in June;
yeastily fragrant of new bread, a buff-frothed pint of bright amber,

          cool on an oak table, gleams. (Inverse of Elegy, this.)

I believe Stet to be out of print, but it appears in full in Reading's second volume of Collected Poems.

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