Skylight Press (http://www.skylightpress.co.uk ) continues to impress with their beautifully designed books of literary fiction, poetry and the esoteric. Their recent books include some extraordinary publications, such as the reissue of Iain Sinclair’s Lud Heat: A Book Of The Dead Hamlets, first published in 1975, with an introduction by Allen Fisher, an afterword by Michael Moorcock, maps and illustrations by Brian Catling. As Andrew Crozier wrote:
Lud Heat is ostensibly a narrative of a period of employment in the
Parks Department of an East London borough; this temporal
location, however, receives less stress than the spatial one with
which it intersects: that of the pattern imposed on the townscape
by Nicholas Hawksmoor’s churches, potent presences in the poets
working environment, around which accretes a second temporal
dimension, historical and mythological, which constitutes the
writer’s real subject.
Crozier concluded that ‘The book is a notable achievement, and an impressive indication of the real health of English poetry.’
Sinclair was inspired, in part, by the poets and poetics of Black Mountain College, where the poet and painter, Basil King, was educated. King left London’s East End in 1947 and subsequently studied at Black Mountain before becoming a New York based painter, seeking an art that moved ‘from the abstract to the figure, from the figure to the abstract.’ King’s Learning to Draw / A History, edited by Daniel Staniforth, an evolving, transformative narrative, mixing poetry and prose, documenting the memoirs of his life and times is one of the many significant titles.
Michael S. Judge’s thoughtful and strange novel, … And Egypt Is The River, is similarly indebted in part to Charles Olson’s poetics in his fascination with etymology, and to quote from an interview, ‘the cartography of the attentions – personal, cultural, political, mythic, cosmological’. Egypt here is read as a state of being in a series of beguiling chapters that transmute the division between poetry and prose.
Tonight the star is hot with evil speech.
Tonight the star wants enemy to drink.
Tonight the star’s in coils that shock us when they’re wet.
Tonight the star’s back panel snaps and furnace cracks its wall.
Tomorrow night, we’ll say: There used to be a star.
Skylight Press is wonderfully diverse with many books on the magical and pagan traditions, and includes the recently published The Lost Art Of Potato Breeding by Rebsie Fairholm, in its catalogue. This book has practical instructions on how to make seeds from potato berries, cross different varieties, choose which ones to experiment with, and how to keep your newly created varieties growing in the future. I admire a publisher that embraces gardening and poetry.
David Caddy 19th February 2014