Soon to be published by Test Centre (www.testcentre.org.uk) in an edition of 500 copies these sequences of poetry, ‘now dusted down and assembled’ were originally written in 1973 at which point they were intended to be a publication from Sinclair’s Albion Village Press. As the notes at the end of this handsome volume tell us the idea was set aside ‘so that Albion Village Press could run with Acrospirical Meanderings in a Tongue of the Time by Chris Torrance and Vorticegarden by Brian Catling.
Sinclair had been highly impressed with the Ferry Press world that Andrew Crozier had founded and had received a copy of Torrance’s Aries Under Saturn and Beyond which Crozier had published in 1969. In a letter from December 1972 he wrote to Crozier ‘the ease & openness of the line; the energy so cleanly played out; a book of internal clouds.’ By April 1973 Sinclair had expressed a wish to do a book with Torrance and in July he reported to Crozier that he had visited C.T. in Wales to gather his manuscript: ‘Walked there, 20 miles over the home mountains. A good spot. Quiet valley, hidden behind the encroaching industrial mess of Neath-Glynneath. A compact & centred existence which has its charms…I now have to find the money to do the book.’ Prynne had looked at the manuscript of what was to become Acrospirical Meanderings in a Tongue of the Time and liked it very much, even to the point of suggesting that he might sell his copy of Robert Duncan’s Letters (Jargon 14), one of 60 signed and specially bound copies with endpapers hand-drawn by the author, to throw some money into the venture. The Torrance book appeared in January 1974 and Sinclair suggested that Vorticegarden, ‘looking , I’m told, like the new English bible, may be, again, our last throw for a while.’
Two sections from ‘Red Eye’ appeared in the summer of 1974 in Volume 7, Nos. 1-3 of Grosseteste Review. ‘Counting The Steps Towards Pollen’ and ‘Frog Killer Memorial’ appear there for the first time and it is a fascinating exercise to compare the changes made from that publication to this final version from Test Centre. For instance, look out for the removal of a host of definite articles. In Turpin Nine, following Torrance’s own extracts from ‘The Magic Door’, Sinclair published ‘The Moon of Making Fat’ and ‘Martian Hymns’. Again the final version now available is significantly different and it would be an excellent exercise of critical reading to put the two versions side by side.
Ian Brinton 29/10/13