RSS Feed

Tag Archives: Sarah Kelly

Poems For The Dance by Scott Thurston (Aquifer)

Poems For The Dance by Scott Thurston (Aquifer)

In 1923 a Doctor in Rutherford was firmly convinced that much depended upon a red wheelbarrow which sat “glazed with rain / water // beside the white / chickens”. Wallace Stevens referred to that wheelbarrow as a “mobile-like arrangement” and Hugh Kenner suggested that the words hung together dangling in “equidependency, attracting the attention, isolating it, so that the sentence in which they are arrayed comes to seem like a suspension system.” Seven years after the placing of that same wheelbarrow William Carlos Williams went on to weave in words a picture of a cat which “climbed over / the top of // the jamcloset”. The 27 words of the cat’s movements are described in what Kenner called “one sinuous suspended sentence, feeling its way and never fumbling.” In The Pound Era Kenner went on to present us with a surfer:

“The surfer planes obliquely down a hill that renews itself at just the rate of his descent. But for encountering the beach he could glide eternally, leftward and inward and always as if downward, but never further down: always hung midway on the face of the wave. He shifts, precarious, through innumerable moments of equilibrium. And the wave bears him and there is no moving wave: the molecules of water move not forward at all but only up and down, their forward movement a pattern not a displacement, as his downward movement is no displacement but a pattern: on and on, self-renewing. So through mere words, renewed by every reader, the cat walks safely forever.”

In her introduction to Scott Thurston’s recently published volume Poems for the Dance Camilla Nelson highlights for us the sense of movement which threads its way through this fine and intriguing moving stance:

“A key part of Thurston’s skill lies in his ability to monitor, examine and carefully express his experience as a dancing body in words. This is evidenced most clearly in the first part of the essay ‘Dancing the Five Rhythms’. The level of detail he is able to recall of the seemingly fleeting emotional-physical relation of the moving body is impressive. But ‘body’ is not enough because, as micro-biologist Margaret McFall-Ngai has observed of her bacterial studies, as the focus of study narrows “it’s difficult for scientists to even categorize what they are seeing” (2010:3). Things fall apart. That is the beauty of such fine observation. Thurston conjures a mirage of being able to think, move and write all at once.”

The reference to things falling apart carries with it no sense of Yeatsian foreboding and what becomes clear throughout this volume of poems, prose and photographs is a sense that the centre both can and does “hold”. This should come as no surprise as one recalls his 2011 Shearsman volume Talking Poetics, the four ‘Dialogues in Innovative Poetry’, a collection of four interviews conducted with Karen MacCormack, Jennifer Moxley, Caroline Bergvall and Andrea Brady:

“It may be difficult to make an apprehension of a poet’s style available to critical analysis. To some extent it must simply be accepted as the means by which their poetry comes to us, and something which we may come to be more or less aware of, perhaps not unlike the rhythm of someone’s walk.”

Commenting on these interviews he suggested that “turning the mercury of speech into the lead of type was a sort of alchemy of meditation and reflection”. The opening poem in this new collection is itself a prolonged meditation on turning and I was reminded of the ‘Message From Not Far Away’ with which Jeremy Prynne concluded the first issue of a Students’ English Magazine of Guangzhou University in 2005:

“Out on the Pearl River enjoying a festive excursion I was watching the water currents slide by, flashing with lights from the banks on either side and lightning from the sky; and I realised how brilliant would be the new magazine of the Guangzhou University English Writing Classes, full of pearl-bright moments and shining articles all moving along in the currents of these changing times. Students of writing should write, so that Chinese imagination and English expression may flow together and blend and sparkle!”

This new collection of Scott Thurston’s work accompanied by the photographs of Roger Bygott sparkles and, as Sarah Kelly notes on the back, it presents us with “moments of encounter, acts of noticing, awareness of pattern – wave by wave by wave”.

Visit http://www.glasfrynproject.org.uk

Ian Brinton, 24th February 2018

Advertisements

Dear World & Everyone In It

Dear World & Everyone In It

New Poetry in the UK: Bloodaxe, publication date Thursday 21st February

As a new poetry anthology appears from Bloodaxe it is time to reassess the world of anthologies. Let me mince no words over this matter: ‘I think that Nathan Hamilton’s new collection/selection/anthology of poems is both exciting and long overdue.’

 

‘The Anthology is polyphonic. The Anthology is a collage of different, or opposing, voices, some enhanced by The Anthology, others working with or against The Anthology. The Anthology does not await the anointment of a Great Poet of The Age to speak for it. The Anthology believes this is an old way of thinking critically in the UK informed by the nation’s attachment to monarchic ideology / Ted Hughes. The Anthology will have none of that Spam.’

 

It is highly pleasing to recognise so many of the names contained in The Anthology as having been published in Tears in the Fence: Siddartha Bose, Hannah Silva, Tom Chivers, James Wilkes, Sarah Kelly, Chris McCabe, Luke Kennard.

 

‘The Anthology is described as containing work from young poets in the UK. The Anthology includes work from poets born, or stationed, overseas. The Anthology challenges a notion of UK poetry as parochial. The Anthology represents what and who young poets in the UK are reading as well as what they are writing.’

 

Long Live The Anthology.

Blue Bus at The Lamb

The sixty-fourth Blue Bus poetry reading took place last night upstairs at The Lamb in Lamb’s Conduit: a joyous evening! D.S. Marriott read first and I was immersed in a richness of language that left me haunted. As well as reading some new work that is as yet unpublished he took us back to the Shearsman publications, Hoodoo Voodoo (2008) and The Bloods (2011). It was Romana Huk who raised this idea of spectres in Marriott’s work when she did the introduction to the 2008 collection:

 

‘In a sense, all of Marriott’s books are about spooks and specters—‘haunted life, as his last book of prose names them.’

 

Robert Sheppard’s most recent book is The Only Life, a collection of three stories about poets, which is published by Knives Forks and Spoons. They also publish his The Given, a piece of ‘autrebiography’, a mode of writing he has been extending in recent months. Berlin Bursts came out from Shearsman last year and A Translated Man will appear soon from there as well. Last night’s reading was sharp, witty and reminiscent of a high-performance steam-roller.

 

Sarah Kelly presented some astonishingly powerful pieces of poetry which seemed to merge the art world of Cy Twombly with the fragmentary history of the Lascaux cave paintings. They were moving and transient as she prepares to return to South America and as Charles Olson wrote of Twombly in 1952:

‘honor &elegance are here once more present in the act of paint’.

 

A great evening of word-hammering!

 

%d bloggers like this: