On Tuesday night in Darwin College, Canterbury, Laurie Duggan gave a poetry reading and I was struck time and again by that tone of voice which merges warmth and mischievous humour with an unflinching seriousness of concern with the human. He read from his recent publication Allotments, a little volume which I reviewed last November on Todd Swift’s EYEWEAR blogzine and also from his Shearsman collection, Crab & Winkle, the title of which is taken from the 1830 ‘Invicta’ locomotive which carried 300 excited passengers from Canterbury to Whitstable. Any temptation to see this poetry as ‘local’ is soon dispelled when you recognise that the range of literary reference throughout the sequences is enormous as the poet weaves from Charles Olson to Donald Allen, Rimbaud to Camus, Susan Howe to Philip Whalen and from Robert Frost to the sly brevity of ‘Allotment 9’ with its glance at Keats and Eliot:
the small gnats
have ceased to wail;
dogwood’s leaves lost
red branches bared
Allotments is published by Fewer & Further Press and the cover by Basil King links this little volume with the world of Andrew Crozier’s Ferry Press where the Black Mountain artist had done the cover for Stephen Jonas’s Transmutations in 1966. Duggan’s new volume of poems, The Pursuit of Happiness, will be available from Shearsman within the next couple of weeks.