Thursday 28 February 2013

Edward Dorn's Collected Poems (2012), fifth selection (from Twenty-Four Love Songs, 1969))

Some favourite passages from Twenty-Four Love Songs (1969):

My speech is tinged
my tongue has taken
a foreigner into it
Can you understand
my uncertainties grow
and underbrush and thicket 
of furious sensibility 
between us....

the first half of '3'

unrung by the secretly expected
fingers of last sunday

from '6'

now everywhere I turn
and everytime there is
that full thing with us
I am cottered

from '10'

We made the journey by train
it was cold now and then
a day scored by a cloud
the heat we had we had in our pockets
and occasionally we took some
what more can be said
more than the existence we have

second and final stanza of '14'

There is no final word
for how you are.
An emotional response
can be the reputation to
which all inquiry is referred
and let go at that.

opening stanza of '24'

Buy Edward Dorn's Collected Poems directly from the publisher.

Wednesday 27 February 2013

Tuesday 26 February 2013

A poetry competition for an important cause, Cardiac Risk in the Young

Last year my dear friend Maureen Jivani lost her lovely daughter Stevi, 19, to an unknown heart condition and has started this competition to raise both awareness and funds for the cause. I hope the competition receives thousands of entries!

The SCJ Poetry Award | Closing Date: 30 April 2013

Details: Poem up to 40 lines. Themes (which may be broadly interpreted): Childhood. Culture. Education.

Prizes: Adults: 1st £1000, 2nd £700, 3rd £300.
Under 18: 1st £250 2nd £150 3rd £100.
Commendations (£10 book tokens): five adult, ten under 18.
Judges: Moniza Alvi and Catherine Smith.
An anthology will be published.

There is no entry form. Instead, simply put the poems' titles, first lines, and your contact details on a separate sheet of paper; there should be no identifying information on the poems themselves.

This competition is in aid of Cardiac Risk in the Young which raises awareness of heart conditions and funds investigations and screening programmes for those at risk of sudden death. To learn more, please see the CRY website.

Entry Fee: No fee for under 18s. Adults, £5 for up to 3 poems.
Contact: The New Malden Health Centre, 4 Blagdon Road, New Malden, Surrey KT3 4AD.
Cheques should be made payable to CRY.

Monday 25 February 2013

Edward Dorn's Collected Poems (2012), fourth selection (from Geography, 1965)

Some favourite passages:

On the bed of the vast promiscuity
of the poet's senses is turned
the multiple world....

opening lines of "Song: The astronauts"

bent is an attitude
I've settled on now
        to define a man
whose attention is forced down

from "The problem of the poem
for my daughter, left unsolved"

...before the bite of the sun quelled the bite
of the stars, we left....


The eye
can be arbitrary,
but its subject matter cannot.
Thus the beauty of some women.

from "Idaho Out"

The occasion for this excursion is in the selected strings
of a life gone terribly lonely. It will be a march.
A frail cloud moves with silence into the window.
No sound in the store. No bell on the door.

* the woven light
of a backroom.

* the ennui of the falling sun....


...all things have an insistence of their own.

from "Six Views 
from the same window of the Northside Grocery"

 ...indolent winter stars
are in her eyes
          indolent as she resides
all seasons by the fork
of my desire.

the last lines of "Love Song"

...a growth
of indetermination
while waiting 
out the season


I am a casual fool
I do so regard
the labor 
of my own
peace of mind.

from "Poem in Five Parts"

this is no judgement, this is
the weight of dissimilar things bound together
by a strictly regulated common deprivation
the low and the high, no middle, held in a smiling equilibrium
you may eat only the shit I give you.


I became that land and wandered out of it.

* wounded middle years,
                                                a practical self-pity


My mother, moving slowly in a grim kitchen
and my stepfather moving slowly down the green rows of corn
these are my unruined and damned hieroglyphs.


...and the land was pledged 
to private use, the walnut dropped in the autumn on the ground
green, and lay black in the dead grass in the spring.

from "The sense comes over me, and the waning
light of man by the 1st National Bank"

 Buy Collected Poems directly from the publisher.

Tuesday 19 February 2013

Edward Dorn's Collected Poems (Carcanet, 2012), third selection

Some favourite passages from Hands Up!, 1964:

the deer eye opens in the mind
on the acoustics of the hunt....

from "The Deer's Eye the Hunter's Nose"

Walking is what I associate 
with Ledyard, distance as sheer urge....


Mystic sheer distance was in thine eye,
that beautiful abstract reckoning,
the feet, walking: for no other reason
the world.

from "Ledyard: The Exhaustion of Sheer Distance"

...for an eye to offer coherence
at times,
you have to use your head as an arbiter,
a relief, for it all.


Cheerfulness is still a misleading humor.
Much is blinding
besides the sun. Yet I am sure you see.
The hour is important.

from "The Land Below"

Fog fell down our mountain.


The day he died--
the slow quiet break. 

from "Hawthorne, End of March, 1962"

we scoured the ground of the earth
to start fires
in these rickety geographies
we knew better than to call home

from "Oh Don't Ask Why"

Finding myself in america
slowly walking around the deserted bandstand, waiting
for the decade, and the facetious new arrivals.

last lines of "A Fate of Unannounced Years"

And two passages from Nine Songs, 1965:

how long can love
suffer in the cross streets of this town
marked simply by the clicking railroad
and scratch of the janitor's broom
last lines of "3"
...sustained by the long passion for darkness
man is.
from "9"

Saturday 16 February 2013

Edward Dorn's Collected Poems (Carcanet, 2012), second selection (The Newly Fallen, 1961)

Some favourite passages from this book:

...oh mother
I remember your year-long stare
across plowed flat prairielands.

last lines of "3 Farm Poems"

...what a grey morning I am.

from "The Open Road"

March us home through the spring rain
the belief, the relief
of sunday occasion.

...the triumph of a march
in which no one
is injured.

from "Sousa"

...may their failure be kindly, and come
in small unnoticeable pieces.

last lies of "Like a Message on Sunday"

The slight stories of explanation
were never meant to be remembered, they are
as change, counted, and then pocketed:

                                       O was one
of their determining inventions
zero, for an empty class, a symbol for nothing,
endowed the void.

from "Our Camp"

Now the yellow strings
Of dusk hang in the air....

from "A Country Song"


Thursday 14 February 2013

Edward Dorn's The Collected Poems (Carcanet, 2012), first selection (Early Poems, 1954-1960)

[from a poem on England...]

...the haggard
diaries of quickly here & there, like a blooded hound
with his leash in his own mouth, ringing
in the articulate air a cultural error.


The last gaze at stones in a calamine expanse

wherein dusty snow sifts her tin kiss to




                                                 even Eros would be ill dressed.

 from "Relics from a Polar Cairn"

Today I am a vast dirge.
Today I have not flown....


Today I am impatient with small horrors.

from "The Revival"

Oh I love plants but where I am the weather
drives the birds away


Whorled, like a univalve shell
into herself,

early to bed, nothing
in her head, here and there

from "The Hide of My Mother"

...all in an enkindled February....

* night too Pocatello wasn't Pocatello but a jewel
the red and the blue and bright amethyst, something you could never narrow down to gas in glass tubes.


...he went on anyway describing the possibilities, that's love
in the mist of indifference.


Everywhere I am, I feel I am everywhere else.

from "For Ray (the 6th)"

What a shock
to get over the embarrassment of using language.

That's why I write to you every day
I no longer have that tedious care.

the last lines of "The 7th"

As the expression goes, do yourself a favour, and buy Edward Dorn's The Collected Poems directly from the publisher, Carcanet Press. How could you regret it?

Tuesday 12 February 2013

Anna Rabinowitz's The Wanton Sublime (Tupelo, 2006)

Anna Rabinowitz's third book of poetry, The Wanton Sublime, explores with vigor and precision the mythology and the person of Mary as the virgin mother. Here are some favourite passages:

(what dreams hammer to a stop--?)

from "Unarmed, unwarned..."


from "Quick"

                                                (O lassitude of folds unfolding)



from "Speculum and Shade"

The divine descends as weather

     a sudden rain flecked with gold

     a chill plunged through smoldering, sparking fire

from "The divine descends as weather"

3. Mornings like this syllables spread their anarchies in the sun...

4. Mornings like this labor to archive subjects/objects of faith...


6. Mornings like this the labyrinth holds invention at bay--


from "A Disquisition on Unbearable
Conundrums of Being"

his hearken creeps into me


Must I do what I have always done--
in a cold sweat and daring nothing,
acquiesce, grip his hand and bleed his way...

from "the Book of Mandate as Helotry"



                    INCESSANT SCOUR OF LIGHT

from "A Prolegomenon of
Benedictine Liturgy as Peregrine Song"

In his eyes, pools of light map no pollution, only flame
In her eyes, no flecks, no threads mar the cobalt calm

     until his hail scumbles their surface

     What is she to make of it

from "It is time to speak of the lies"

For this I, Hekenus, said: your mysteries are not welcome
My mysteries I wield but will not yield

And so to me, tender of gardens, made he tender
And so by me was he denied

the last two stanzas of "Of Ubiquitous Will"

We are water

                                             we are wager

            we will be outlived by our intentions

from "The real, the true song"

Cut to her eyes fixed on definition
Cut to the sky attempting arrival


Cut to her soul which is body
           which is the dust
                      of an inescapable need

from "The Wanton Sublime"


Sunday 10 February 2013

My collaboration with Roddy Lumsden for Camarade 4

As videos of me go, I find this one on the more tolerable side. This one shows the results of my collaboration with Roddy Lumsden for Steven Fowler's Camarade 4, performed last night at The Rich Mix Foundation in London.

Sunday 3 February 2013

Of funerals and mortality

On Friday I attended my partner's father's funeral and wake in Suffolk, and as the minister earnestly reminded us, it was a time to think not only on the life of the departed but also on our own mortality. Since my parents' early deaths, I've been overwhelmed by the realization that all this knowledge, all this richness of experience, simply ends (as I am agnostic). I feel more pressure not only to lead an ethical life but also to be the person I aspire to be, as a partner, friend, writer, and teacher. I suppose that's why I came up with so many New Year's resolutions (perhaps aspirations is a better word)--I am painfully conscious of ways in which I want to improve. Perhaps this degree of self-criticism will ease as I become more accustomed to my parents' deaths, but I'm not sure I want it to. Perhaps having a keen sense of mortality, a sense that we lead only one life, offers the best way to achieve real happiness. I don't know.