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.

Monday 16 December 2013

Bin Ramke's Aerial (Omnidawn, 2012)

Some favourite passages:

Nocturnal warnings fill us with desire
to know the arts of birds
and the habits of fishes.


The land is the land, and home.
The water is the water, and home.
The light is the light is the air
and is its own home, we think.


What a contrite species this is
which does its damage by day and
by night regrets and dreams
or watches at windows.

from "Migrations of Birds and Fishes"

the beetle imago crawling two
dots on its back shiny as dew
under the murderous eye of sun
I of sunlight sizzling the morning as

if and we wait again against. For health.

end of "Living in Weather"

Everything is necessary, nothing
is sufficient. Speak to see
who listens.

second stanza of "Crystalline Structure,
Threat of Weather"

Boundaried vision and vapor conspire

to exhale, exalt into rain random dispersal into
the present. I see as far as that. I never saw farther.

from "Into Bad Weather Bounding"

   also silence might also be
white noise--all frequencies all intensities all
distance as an imagined reciprocal of absence

opening of "Contradiction, and the Enigmatic Modes"

The bird-bath encrusts itself, crystalline
graph, birds huddle and I watch from the window
the glazing of water.

from "To Breathe Together"

. . . ordinary,

this secretly separate sifting
of a self particulate, drifting

from "Desire. Consider. Star. Ice."

We begin. No, we don't. We hover over choices, claiming and
proclaiming one thing as beginning
then another.

from "Articulation"

. . . a shock it is to find you have a past 
not the one you remember. Forgone, forgotten.

end of "Beautiful Island:"

In the UK, Bin Ramke's Aerial is available from Foyle's, presently at a 22% discount.

Friday 6 December 2013

Matt Bryden's 'Brest Litovsk' from Boxing the Compass (Templar, 2013)

Brest Litovsk

Drop a shroud over a country –
food aid, shelter, nightfall,

enough to forget about it, let
it get by.

You can walk right up to it,
whip off the covers –

an angle-poise lamp under sack,
a starscape.

Silent, contoured, like camouflage
netting pulled over a tank –

there are handholds,
footfalls for the blind.

You like to imagine the conundrum –
an ant crossing a table-top comes upon

a sugar cube 1cm by 1cm by 1cm:
how far is added to its journey? –

that a shirt hung from the nozzle
of a tank might obscure it,

that you could walk across
a country covered in such a fashion –

tottering over plate, doll, bone
and crush them without noticing –

a sprawling landfill, a Milky
Way teeming with animals,

a bee in the hand.

Matt Bryden's first collection, Boxing the Compass, is available directly from the publisher for £8.99, postage free worldwide. 

Monday 2 December 2013

At the Time of Partition by Moniza Alvi (Bloodaxe, 2013)

Some favourite passages:

Like a conquered king,
the story limps away.

Pity the ending.
No story has an ending.

Attend the burial--
there will be a resurrection.


One day--that sliver of time

in which anything can happen
and often doesn't,

but sometimes time take one day
by the hand, or the scruff of the neck.

That day when any story
takes a deep breath

                                and begins--


In an exodus, such a child
grown up and not grown up

was ripe for being lost.


A line so delicate a sparrow might have
picked it up in its beak.

from "The Line"

Under duress, 
it [the house] was dauntingly calm.

from "Ever After"

Where will you live?
Have you any arrangements?

An arrangement?
It lay breathing at the end of the tunnel.

Hopped towards her like a tamed bird.

Like a kite, it tangled in the trees. 


At this point the back
of the story
                    begins to break.

Can it walk at all?
Or hobble with a stick?

Will it close its eyes and drift into sleep?

How to serve it well?

from "So They Took the Bus"

How did she come to be here
in a place so in love with no?

from "No"

The nothingness was palpable--
you could pluck it from the air.

from "The Camp"

A nation in its instability,

one that could change lives
with the suddenness of a blow to the head.

from "And Where?"

What was there to cling to
but hope?

The fine escarpment of hope.

from "Continuing"

At the time of posting, Moniza Alvi's At the Time of Partition is available for 27% off from Foyle's