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Tim Fletcher’s Ignis Innaturalis (First Offense)

Tim Fletcher’s Ignis Innaturalis (First Offense)

http://www.timfletcher.biz

Poet and musician, Tim Fletcher made some pertinent comments on alchemy during the recent Tears in the Fence Festival. His latest pamphlet, Ignis Innaturalis, wonderfully illustrated by Jan Fletcher, is a poetic meditation on a range of magical searches for the philosopher’s stone.

Ignis Innaturalis meaning secret fire refers to the enigmatic flame of the alchemist that does not burn and is seen as the philosopher’s kiln in which notions and ideas are transformed into abstractions of beauty. The ‘ignis’ is another term for the Buddhist ‘dharma’, or the spark, root and generator of life. It is part of a wider alchemical search for the unfolding of the mind or spiritual renewal.

The title poem begins:

Dancing … running..dashing symphonic prize …..
Dancing … running..dashing symphonic prize …..
Ignis innaturalis…. Ignis ignis innaturalis

Shadows chaste as lilac flowing …gushing…flooding ….
Into triumphant fabrics over psychic devastation

Snaking…thrusting…victorious sunfire craze sliding into curve of mooncool mirrors….

Joie du sang des étoiles

The intense musicality continues throughout the collection and is presented to great effect on the accompanying CD. Fletcher, who edits First Offense, was a member of Bob Cobbing’s poetry workshop.

Ignis Innaturalis concerns the metaphors of alchemical processes of transmutation and ranges from the heretic, Akhenaten, in ancient Egypt through to Olivier Messiaen’s Turangalila Symphonie and a French alchemical love song. The search for transmutation consists of turning base qualities into golden ones, as distinct from the medieval practitioners who tried to turn base metals into gold, and embraces the attempt to turn ignorance into enlightenment, sin into redemption, and so on.

Fletcher plays soprano, alto and tenor sax, flute, bass clarinet and effectively uses his voice to create a range of moods on the CD. One of the strongest compositions is ‘Wild into Night’, where ‘psalms sing out too big to argue with’:

falsetto of knives squeaks and
vociferous yelps circular breathing
self-cunnilingus of the snake
kindling bizarre rush of clichés turned inside-out for the secrets
of the stony paves
bursting boundaries limitations
such expansion of cadenzas
are imagined coloration of the stars

David Caddy 8th November 2014

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