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Pamphlet Revival: Ag and Au

Pamphlet Revival: Ag and Au

Poetry pamphlet publishers are filling the gap of more staid and conservative publishers by publishing sequences and more often.   Pamphlets are having a revival. They continue to be as relevant to the emergence of new work, especially sequences and work in progress as they were thirty or forty years ago. They serve as interim reports, markers of what is new and emerging from the pit face. Oystercatcher Press, Happenstance Press, Corrupt Press, Like This Press and several others have helped to revitalize the pamphlet-publishing scene. They appear to be far more effective than e-pamphlets and have the advantages of mobility and samizdat alterity.

 

Charles Wilkinson’s poetry pamphlet Ag & Au (Flarestack Poets 2013), illustrated by Birmingham Institute of Art & Design students, explores the history of Birminghams’s Jewellery Quarter and the qualities of silver (Ag) and gold (Au). ‘The Golden Triangle’ has flourished since the nineteenth century and occasions this wonderfully atmospheric, spare and balanced sequence. Wilkinson employs found materials and his own archival research into the location, jeweller’s craft and individual craftsmen, to add depth and texture to his poems. Wilkinson welds a specific vocabulary, imbedded in a distinctly localized, social and economic history, and overlays with tight musicality.

 

opening the shutters

to let in the tall morn-

ing, pace it out, & smile

as if recording, though

an instant & it’s done;

take out My Lady’s Tray:

the same gravitas, open-

ing the door; sir-hiss o

how many times a day – His

Lordship always out, he’s

          by the herringbone stream,

sir: soft sound goes deeper,

archaeological:

Ur and the silver on

the sideboard black white, chang-

 

 

These visually attractive poems sparkle with ballads, gems, jeweller’s boxes, bells, lemel bricks, fool’s silver, seasilver and are vitalised by reference to the world of service, child labour, trade disputes and cuffs of light.

 

David Caddy

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