Friday 28 December 2012

"The Next Big Thing"

The indefatigable Sophie Mayer has tagged me in a blog game called "The Next Big Thing," where one uses a set list of questions to interview oneself about one's most recent or next book and tags others whose work s/he admires to do the same. Here I answer questions about my (presumably) forthcoming third collection, Imagined Sons; my pamphlet/chapbook The Son (Oystercatcher, 2009) provides a sample of it. Thanks for thinking of me, Sophie!

What is the working title of your book?
Imagined Sons
Where did the idea come from for the book?
It began with a prose poem I wrote in 1995, where I imagined meeting my son when he came of age. I wrote half a dozen such poems over the next ten years. 
What genre does your book fall under?
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I think a different actor would need to play each new incarnation of the imagined son, to suggest the breadth of possibility. I'd love Christina Ricci to play me. 
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Imagined Sons explores a birthmother's consciousness through two kinds of poems: Imagined Sons, where the birthmother imagines meeting her son once he's come of age; and Birthmother's Catechisms, where the same question recurs over time with different answers. 
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
The first poem was written in 1995, but I didn't work on the series wholeheartedly until 2006 (at that point only six  "Imagined Sons" had been written). The first draft of the manuscript took the better part of a year, but I've been revising the manuscript steadily since then. 
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
The desire to explain or share my experience as a birthmother in a more immersive, less confessional poetry. 
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

I expect people who enjoy flash fiction would like the generally narrative drive of the prose poems.

The poets I'm tagging are two wonderfully imaginative, intelligent, and kind poets. Their interviews should be up within a week:
Jennifer Militello
Zoe Brigley

Wednesday 26 December 2012

R.F. Langley's Collected Poems (Carcanet, 2000), first selection

Some favourite passages:

passage of the cars, slight
pressure of the sparrow's
chirps--just what the old glass
gently tested, bending,
she would have meant, and not
a dream ascending. 


...the lie she told to throw
the truth into relief.

Into the pure relief
of ordinary light.

from "Mariana"

We leave unachieved in the 
summer dusk. There was no
need for you rather than me.
Here is the unalterable truth.


Now, when I need it, I'm so close
to emptiness.


We find
peace in the room and don't
ask what won't be answered.

from "The Upshot"

We sway up, shut
down and open, coolly, each
small hour.


These inroads let
me understand, and mark
sharply. Over what? Over
brilliant quietness.


White hedonism cut on blue
intelligence and laced
with silver anxiety. Bravo.

from "The Ecstasy Inventories"

It is a common experience to come upon a
pale, glittering house set far back across
a meadow. It is certainly inside you.


The unexpected colours stare. The crowd
is wholly intent. A fluttering. A blaze.


The self is felt, 
as standing, fired, inside the diamond.

from "Juan Fernandez"

The drunk. Hush. Lay him down in
the sound of his name.

from "Saxon Landings"

O you, o you he
this, she this
here, once, and
again and again

from "Blithing"

Unbidden thoughts come sometimes


from "Rough Silk"

Once more the menace of the small
hours and of coming to light and of
each sharper complication.


This still
increasing presence is for the last time.
Then the beginning of an immense grip.


Nothing I want settles


It's a strange 
relief to transform your fretting into
the silent coiling of a phantom dragon.

from "The Gorgoneion"

R.F. Langley's Collected Poems is available directly from the publisher at a discount.

Sunday 23 December 2012

Even Supposing-- and the new issue of Blackbox Manifold

Some months ago (I believe it was April), I spoke of a new project I'd embarked on, an erasure of Esther Summerson's chapters in Charles Dickens' Bleak House, which I've tentatively titled Even Supposing-- (both Esther's last words in and the last words of the novel, including that splendid dash). The first chapter from that project appears in the new issue of Blackbox Manifold, and I have wonderful company, with Ray DiPalma, Anne Gorrick, Paul Green, W.N. Herbert, Tony Lopez, Erin Moure, Ian Seed, Aidan Semmens, and John Wilkinson, among others, as well as a special feature on Peter Robinson. I'm delighted to be a part of it. 

Monday 17 December 2012

Mary Ann Samyn's Inside the Yellow Dress (New Issues, 2001)

Here are just a few favourite passages from this impressive book. 

It is always like this.
I cannot calculate 
the hurt ahead of time.
I cannot spare myself.

                                            So I go headlong--

I go wanting.

And these flowers:

                                  how bright they are.

             they keep their color all winter.

second half of
"Moving Away from an Event"

My mother is anger and want, a small girl.
I am a small girl too.
One of us darts in and out of the bushes.

                          The other cannot imagine her suffering.

end of "Poem with a Riddle in It"

Such a small idea and gone:
her hands in the air at dusk,

                       the sun--just a click now in the trees--

end of "Poem with Light on Its Shoulder"

I say gauzy the way you might say love, 
meaning my hunger--

          desire a net, after all,

                                             and rigged--

from "Fabric/Lyric"

Read my selections from Samyn's Beauty Breaks In (New Issues, 2009 and Purr (New Issues, 2005).

Sunday 2 December 2012

Kelvin Corcoran's Lyric Lyric (Reality Street, 1993)

This book is equally divided into two sections, each titled Lyric. Here some favourite passages from the first section:

...the human meaning
out of the dark dream
breathing immediate words.


...a door into the river night
the site of deep assent.


How can we ever, that carpet,
I shall pin the dumb song moment
familiar shapes inscribe
man, woman, driving home
return me word by word.

And from the second section: 

It's hard enough under this sky
and in all these other places,
lights fixed and moving
an uncertain grid of fields
without a dream, you knew just what,
come out of that open air.


That morning cars came out of the sun,
I couldn't measure the speeds,
careering subjects released from rhetoric
smacked up against the white wall.
The birds flip from branch to branch,
their funny watery cries all around
splash and blend in the garden heat.


the shape of a country moves through us.


In blue September between blue blinds
I write and drink, thinking of money,
thinking inside the physical forms of words
for the pleasures of reification.


The bright ones learn Japanese and Arabic
running up the walls of banks, shops and palaces,
the rhythm of neglect, step out of it,
through the door, into the house, talking.

You can buy Lyric Lyric from the publisher for a mere £5.