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Tony Lewis-Jones’ Fuero (Increase) Edited by Rachel Bentham & Rive Gauche

Tony Lewis-Jones’ Fuero (Increase) Edited by Rachel Bentham & Rive Gauche

The American poet William Carlos Williams was convinced about how much depended upon ‘a red wheel barrow’ and what made the Rutherford doctor so convinced was that something depended upon that picture which the words conjured into being:

so much depends
upon

a red wheel
barrow

The picture becomes more exact with the following lines of description

glazed with rain
water

beside the white
chickens

Here was a firm belief that American culture was based upon a realization of the qualities of a place in relation to the life which occupies it. Williams’s poem was written only a year after the publication of T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land where the American hope for cultural distinction seemed to be based upon an inheritance of a European and classical tradition of placing oneself in a very different context from the one asserted by the doctor from Rutherford. In defiance of Eliot’s world, Williams insisted upon starting with local materials and ‘lifting these things into an ordered and utilized whole (The American Background, 1934). However, if so much is to depend upon this localisation of background then it must be because firm observation of the local leads to a greater insight into thoughts and emotions which transcend what could otherwise be regarded as simply parochial.
I suppose that Haiku were originally written in the days before the camera. If a traveller through the world wished to register a moment of the here-and-now which could be placed in contrast to an echo of both the past and the hoped-for future then a short piece of poetry might be the best way of providing that record. Some of these short poems by Tony Lewis-Jones place that recorded moment against a clear white background:

March frost—
Winter’s last throw
of the dice.

The juxtaposition of dark dots on a die contrasts with the surrounding whiteness of the cube itself. Small moments are the remnants of a gone season, a last throw cast by a loser whose frosty belligerence will not prevent what will, inevitably, overcome: Spring wins!
We measure out our life, perhaps, not with coffee spoons but with the unbidden recollection prompted by a cup of ‘café au lait’: ‘up early / café au lait- / thinking of you / our nights / in Paris’

Wallace Stevens referred to that red wheelbarrow as a ‘mobile-like arrangement’ and Hugh Kenner suggested that the words used by Williams ‘dangle in equidependency, attracting the attention, isolating it, so that the sentence in which they are arrayed comes to seem like a suspension system.’

Have a look at these new Haiku by Tony Lewis-Jones who runs the Bristol-based on-line site Various Artists and the book is available via Amazon.

Ian Brinton 10th March 2015

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Poetic Adventures in Scotland with Seventy Selected Poems

Poetic Adventures in Scotland with Seventy Selected Poems

Sally Evans and diehard poetry press

 

Like all the best old stories this one starts in a traditional manner: ‘This story really begins with the Sandy Bells. My then husband moved us to Edinburgh for a job in the University buildings in the lane behind this pub, where the taxi disgorged us on my first arrival in Edinburgh’.

This is a magnetic story of being ‘mesmerised by the company of a group of Scottish poets who largely revolved round the Sandy Bells’. As Hamish Henderson’s biographer, Timothy Neat, was to put it ‘Sandy’s now became the gathering place for folksingers, musicians and a fair proportion of Edinburgh’s more radical thinkers’ and by the mid-1950s the pub was widely recognised as the hub of the Scottish Folk Revival. It was frequented by Alexander Trocchi, Billy Connolly, Alasdair Gray, Liz Lochhead, Bruce Chatwin, Gordon Brown, Iain Banks, Ian Rankin and, of course, Sally Evans.

 

The life history of Sally Evans is punctuated with poems and publications and she recalls her first printing in ‘a spiral-bound booklet and a School of Poets card’:

 

‘I helped produce a whole series of these cards by different beginners, which seemed to validate mine, in the same way that publishing other people’s books and poems validates my doing my own’.

 

This autobiographical record which Sally has produced, published by her own diehard press, is a sheer delight to read and should be on the list for every young poet who wants to feel some increasing confidence concerning what they most want to do. It is uplifting! I was delighted at one point to read that some of her poems were published by Tony Lewis-Jones’s Firewater Press in Bristol. Tony, a former pupil of mine from the 1970s, is one of the major promoters of poetic activity in the Bristol area and it is absolutely appropriate that he should be recognised in Sally’s book which, after all, charts the world of the non-mainstream publishing venture.

Sally’s own poems are scattered like rich seed throughout the volume and perhaps the best quick taste is to read the closing lines of ‘Villanelle’:

 

I ran through groves of oranges and limes.

I ran by rivers to the ocean.

Now I have nothing but my singing rhymes.

 

Up, up beyond where vegetation climbs,

down, down till there was nowhere else to run,

I ran away from him too many times.

Now I have nothing but my singing rhymes.

 

To buy a copy of these poetic adventures contact Sally Evans at

 

diehard at the Callender Press, 91-93 Main Street, Callander, FK17 8BQ

 

Ian Brinton 7th May 2014.

 

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