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Peter Larkin’s Lessways Least Scarce Among

Lessways Least Scarce Among: Poems 2002-2009

 

Peter Larkin’s new volume from Shearsman Press is sheer delight. The volume opens with ‘Turf Hill’, an interplay between the wild and the industrial, the electricity pylon and the tree:

‘How the boles thin to the widener of tracking turf, pylon by terrace of heeded instrument! If the tree-standing for wire is the pull of cantileaf, what can indent its continuous ornament looping on power line? The trees are resident by unavailing advantage, full technical sorrow lattices their derivative store of staying beside-hand a cloaked way below. Each wafer strut as actuator, soft spring between wing and store. Field follower across overhead pitch, into the straits which fertilise a neb of impasse, but where wire cups to its beak, a lift of towers inciting local spine, so spike your green along. Forked untransformable at heel of branch, trees topped for their sail-at-root, they bare these iron masts whenever nothing can have happened to the great limb.’

Here vulnerability threads its way through ‘unavailing’ to the word ‘sorrow’ before shifting to the association of the human traveller (‘cloaked’) which suggests both secrecy and protection. The density of this rich passage concludes with a further shift towards commercialism as the verb ‘topped’, associated with the wood management of pollarding, moves towards the pun on ‘sail’/sale and the voyaging image of ‘masts’ pushing on wards with human commercial enterprise.

This new volume from Shearsman gives us a comprehensive account of how Peter Larkin’s landscape is not so much a thing as a process.

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