2 Mar 2020

Lyndon Davies: Junction Box 12 Editorial

This edition of Junction Box comes to you from storm-battered Crickhowell. As I write, the trees are thrashing about outside the window, rain hitting the roofs at all manner of unlikely angles. February in Crickhowell has been a riot, the river swelling and falling like a demented bellows; houses wrecked, their innards scattered over the mud and twig spattered streets; the old bridge with a huge bite taken out of it. Storm after storm, this winter, flood after flood. All over the world, floods, fires, landslides, pollution-smogs, aeroplane-borne pandemics. If one was religious you might be thinking of last days, but eschatological anxiety is no longer the preserve of the religious. Now every undeluded being is their own John of Patmos; you only have to stick your nose out the door to see that the really big storm’s not only coming, it’s here: the weather convulsing, the forests torn up, the glaciers melting, the seas choked with plastic, whole species of animals and plants dying out, population rates exploding, water supplies running out, while we humans go on wasting and fighting and hating and dreaming of stardom. This is apocalypse as everyday cliché, but none the less tragic for all that. We even have our own idiotic antechrist, of course, in the shape of no less a figure than the president of the United States. Yes, just when we needed the great leader. It’s almost funny.

Last days. Already February of this weirdly dazed hung-over year. In the UK 2019 was a year of political passion, and for many a year of nerve-shredding hope, when it seemed that there was a genuine quarter-chance that the status-quo could be overturned and some meaningful form of social, ecological and economic justice put in its place. We learned just how far away from achieving that we still are, and many of us entered 2020 feeling like something left behind in the grass when the flood drops. Waterlogged and exhausted. I think of 2019 as the year of rhetorics, a battlefield of highly tuned discursive modalities. Forgetting for a moment the usual mediocre static, beloved of all-day news channels, who could fail to have been stirred at times by the intensity of the verbal struggle between government and parliament, the drama of those last-minute legal pronouncements, the occasionally almost Ciceronian efforts to persuade? I won’t forget Dominic Grieve’s sturdily rational attempts to stem the lemming-rush to a no-deal Brexit; nor the astonishingly brutal tirade of the then solictor-general in response to the Supreme Court’s repudiation of the proroguing of Parliament. I won’t forget (though I’d like to) Johnson’s diversionary swerving between repellent playground bully and affable stand-up comedian, and neither will I forget some of Corbyn’s blisteringly accurate skewerings of prime-minsterial bad-faith (both usually passed over by the media). I won’t forget Greta Thunberg’s magnificent address to the United Nations, or the weirdly sinister infantilism of Trump’s attack on her, or actually of anything that comes out of his mouth at any point, any more than I’ll forget the imbecilic viciousness of the tabloid newspapers, who could always be relied upon to sink to the occasion, or the more insidious truth-manipulations of the plutocratic broadsheets. A veritable storm of rhetorics, sometimes genuinely awesome in its intensity, even thrilling, but which in the end just draggled out in a long smear of debris. One simple fact only appears to remain standing: we’re stuffed and we always were stuffed even when there seemed a glimpse of hope, because underneath all the rhetorics the great poison-toad of privileged self-interest squats in silence, immovable, giving off its debilitating  gases of fear, hatred and prejudice. As ever.

In other words, for all the words, nothing has changed. Except that perhaps everything has changed, who knows? Amidst the despair and inertia there is a feeling that people, more and more, are at least starting to pay attention. Amazing to think that, if that’s true, to a considerable extent it’s probably words that have done that, mere speech-acts carefully carved and distributed in digestible lozenges. Language, public language, explication and persuasion: scary to think how very much depends on this. And under the public language the other, masked by a silence beloved of tyrants and toadies of tyrants through the ages (hard not to think here of ‘Mum’s the Word’ Cummings). For silence is also a rhetoric if you can read it, and history has taught us that more often than not it means trouble, it means getting away with whatever’s necessary in the pursuit of one’s own ends. It means nasty. It means damaged.

Words, then, and images, too, of course, so powerful, always images, but 2019 seemed to me, personally, to be more than anything the year of words. The struggle in language,  always there, of course, but sometimes you get this really shocking sense of the potent immediacy of that reality. But the struggle is everywhere, and here we are, writers, poets, musicians, visual artists, all faced with the pressing necessity to create work that matters, that has some kind of bearing within an almost overwhelming situation of planetary-scaled direness, but also to find means to carry our vision forward into the polis. Something big, something really wild, grandiose, exorbitant and yet intricately accurate seems required of us, but what on earth might that look like? Or should we, perhaps, nineteen-thirties style, temporarily bracket art and throw our creative energies into politics?  It feels odd, faced with ecological melt-down and the politics of the post-social, just to carry on as we are, writing, painting, producing our celebratory or anguished or disruptive aesthetic gestures, on what feels sometimes an almost microscopically insignificant scale. But life must go on while it’s going on, and even this feels heroic enough in the circumstances, some kind of antidote, perhaps, to the creeping plague of instrumentalism and neo-liberal cultural and psychological vandalism. Many fine writers and artists are grappling with such conundrums, and some of them are published here in Junction Box 12. Big thanks to all our contributors and good wishes to the flooded and overwhelmed everywhere.

February 2020

(Cover art for this edition by Penny Hallas)

 

 

 

2 Mar 2020

Iris Colomb: ‘In Dreams I’ve Had of Falling’

‘In Dreams I’ve Had Of Falling’ 

Suspended reading & constricted writing

 

In Dreams I’ve Had Of Falling is a project merging poetry and Shibari that I have developed with the multidisciplinary artist, Nik Nightingale. In this essay I will unpack its experiential roots and highlight their relation to my poetic process.

In the past few years I have worked between poetry, visual art and performance, particularly exploring the relationships between visual and spoken forms of text and the performativity of reading. This has led me to create a variety of textual objects that function as three-dimensional scores. These objects require specific gestures to be activated and, once activated, continue to determine my movements throughout a piece. The development of my practice has been strongly influenced by the sense of my body as an obstacle that I struggle to find a place for in my work. My interactive object pieces solve, develop or postpone these questions.

At the same time, Nik, a friend and fellow member of the interdisciplinary art collective ‘No Such Thing’, has been developing a new facet of his practice in training as a rigger in traditional Japanese bondage, also referred to as ‘Shibari’. This medium traditionally involves binding and suspending bodies with rope. He uses it to develop projects between performance, installation, film and photography. Last February, we realised that we had not yet attempted to mix the different media that had become central to our respective practices and decided to collaborate on a piece in which Nik would bind and suspend me while I performed poems written in response to that experience.

This would be an opportunity for me to finally face my body and push Nik to challenge traditional approaches to Shibari. It would demand the combination of functional and aesthetic elements of Shibari in order to design a tie able to accomodate the act of reading. We were both interested in the tension induced by bringing together an act of control (reading) and a context where control is meant to be lost (Shibari). I had no idea how I would react to the physical constraints and strains that come with being bound and suspended, but the situations which make me most apprehensive are also those I am most urgently drawn to creatively. This project had to start from that experience.

*

My first encounters with the practice of Shibari were both less difficult and more intense than I’d expected. When faced with a very new and potentially challenging experience, I am often surprised by my ability to cope. However, beyond that relief, those experiences also triggered a variety of simultaneously powerful and contradictory sensations.

Strung up, my body becomes vividly physical; my awareness of it pulses, all-engulfing, persistently new. The ropes compressing my rib cage frame every - restricted - breath, each limited intake provides a rhythmical pull, calling me back out of the text and into my body. I am here, now, and this is still happening. The pressure intensifies everything. Each of my limbs is incredibly concrete, each one a dense unit of space, outlined and held. I feel them all at once; their malleability, their resistance, each of their suspended weights, and the balance between them. They are all part of it, all crucial to this one irreducible entity, this finite apparatus, my body, the inescapable machine holding me together. This awareness washes over me like an echoing crash. I read with it. I read through it, my focus stretched between the text, the strain, and the harsh clarity it continues to bring. I am here, and this body is all I have.

In this intense state of self-awareness, I felt completely disconnected, separate from my environment; trapped, not so much in the ropes as in my body itself. However, this exacerbated inward focus was combined with the strong impression that the source of the entire experience was external. I had a similarly insistent sense that some ‘thing’ was happening to or being done to my body, a form of aggression or accepted intrusion that was completely new to me. Reading kept me focused and actively engaged throughout – and despite – the experience, introducing a familiar and comfortable element to a new and challenging experience.

Beyond this network of sensations, I was fascinated by Shibari’s technical precision and its roots in a combined physical, material and anatomical knowledge. As Nik created complex structures made of multiple simple knots to support my body, his gestures felt calculated, controlled, almost clinical. Through this, the ropes’ tightness and my resulting compression took on a secure, technical and pragmatic dimension. In this sense, I could understand Shibari as a sophisticated craft, and my own body as a material similar to that with which I made my poetic objects.

Around twenty minutes after each session, my memories would already begin to fade as if spontaneously eroding. It was difficult for me to remember my exact sensations or to evaluate their intensity, as if my mind was shielding me from the sensorial excess. Through Shibari, I was made to feel both very separate and engulfed by constant change, both human and other; I was both a passive recipient and a stubborn performer refusing to lose focus. My initial sessions with Nik allowed me to identify these points of tension and make them the core of my response.

Before moving on to my writing process, I want to address the interpersonal aspect of the experience I have attempted to describe. The relationship and interaction between rigger and model is a fundamental feature of Shibari. The strength and simplicity of our friendship and my working relationship with Nik allowed me to place my focus entirely elsewhere. The extent of my trust in my collaborator and our mutual focus on the project meant that there was nothing distracting about our interaction. Nik’s attention to the craft was evident; he knew what he was doing, and I knew he would not let anything harmful happen to me.

*

Discussing my impressions of Shibari with Nik, I often resorted to imagery in order to express myself. A range of analogies emerged from our conversations. While Shibari’s intense focus on the body invited comparisons with casting or life modelling, its constrictive structures linked it to animal traps or insect moulting processes. The intensity of my sensations and their engulfing effects brought to mind extreme sports such as skydiving or free diving. The elements of aggression and intrusion in my experience evoked situations in which bodies suddenly find themselves at the mercy of their environments, such as avalanches or rip currents. Losing control of my body led me to think about fainting, freezing and sleep paralysis. Beyond this, Shibari’s precision and craft linked it to activities such as binding, calligraphy or embroidery.

To explore the tensions between opposed and simultaneous sensations within my experience, I arranged 28 analogies into 14 pairs, associating images I felt were furthest from each other. Each pair brought together disparate textual sources such as a tutorial about embroidery and a medical description of fainting, an article about tightrope walking and a video comparing different animal traps, and so on. I went through these texts, selecting fragments which resonated with my experience. Once the two selections were made, I threaded them together to construct a short prose poem. I used this process to produce 14 compositions, each merging fragments of three to seven words and alternating between the two sets. Each poem would include between 100 and 120 words.

I had often used writing methods based on similarly deliberate cut-up processes, but those previous projects had always included elements of repetition, permutation and syntactic disjunction. Working the same way to produce prose poems required me to combine these fragments into grammatically viable compositions, which was an entirely new challenge. Working with textual fragments to curate new compositions demands a specific mindset, a form of focus that allows me to be both patient enough to notice the potential of multiple new combinations and firm enough to sort through those possibilities, evaluate them, go on to discard several and choose one. As the process unfolds through an accumulation of small, careful and often hesitant steps, I find myself having to consciously manage my thoughts and energy in order to maintain this balance.

This new project’s demand for coherence within a small word count pushed the process to an unprecedented level of constraint. Although my first two compositions came together quite smoothly, with the following two my initial ease and excitement gave way to hours of doubt and frustration. After struggling through the fourth composition at a time when my attention was divided between several projects, I realised this sequence would require my full attention. I arranged to produce the remaining compositions over a stretch of ten consecutive days.

Each poem required at least six hours of focus to choose the texts, select the fragments and rearrange them. In order to produce a poem a day, I would not stop working until I had developed a satisfactory draft which fit my minimum word count. This added imperative meant that I could not afford to consider the possibility of failure. This writing process developed into a kind of internal ritual.

First, I immerse myself in the material. Allowing my attention to flow freely between fragments, I notice their individual tone and structure, allowing connections to start to emerge. I can’t settle yet: I have to stay agile, unattached. To challenge my instincts I skim through several randomised versions, taking in new possibilities. Alternating between these arbitrary and aleatoric modes, I build various strands of potential combinations. As these options accumulate, my attention becomes more pointed, my choices more deliberate. With Shibari as my lense, I skip between sources, ready to grasp what will resonate. I sift through my arrangements, testing multiple iterations in an attempt to find something to hang on to. I think of this thing as the composition’s hook, a point towards which all subsequent combinations can gravitate, strong enough to hold them together. I don’t know how long it will take; I only know it has to happen and can’t be forced.

Once I have the hook, I thread the rest of the poem around it. Now, I need to be more selective while staying receptive and continuing to trust that I will find what fits. From then on the operation becomes increasingly technical; its grammatical constraints start to gain weight; my initial explorations become deliberate excavations. I repeatedly examine the remaining fragments in order to extract and merge particular types of clauses. Now I need words of specific classes, matching pronouns, verbs of a certain tense, connective words to tie phrases together. As my draft develops, the pressure builds, each choice restricting the next. To keep moving forward, I must avoid any form of frustration, cling to the bursts of energy I get from my findings, and move through moments of stagnation without letting them affect my momentum. The closer I get to the end, the more I need to find a form of cohesion; the more limited my options are, the more crucial and difficult it is to maintain my focus, to remain patient, to keep control.

At the end of each writing session, when the pressure finally dropped, the process often left me feeling drained, raw and irritable, somewhere between vague exhaustion and complete saturation. I was easily overwhelmed, struggled to manage my immediate emotions, and the impatience I had pushed against while writing would take over, as if my resources had been used up.

In responding to the challenging tensions of Shibari, I created a writing method the constraints of which pushed me well beyond my expectations. I trapped myself in an unusually tight set of constraints over a period of time solely defined by my ability to withstand and surpass them. This kept me in a state of constant tension and persistent self-awareness, as such, the writing process grew into an experience of its own. Its intensity led me to approach each of my days of writing with equal apprehension and urgency. Beyond the pressure, there was also something completely captivating about this sustained engagement with disparate fragments, and the challenge of finding poems between my recollections of simultaneous sensations and the technical possibilities of language.

 

 

Iris Colomb is a poet, artist, curator and translator based in London. She has given individual, collaborative and interactive performances in the UK, Germany, Austria, Romania, and France, at the Bucharest International Poetry Festival, the European Poetry Festival, and the Southbank Centre’s Poetry International Festival among others. Iris’ pamphlet ‘I’m Shocked’ come out with Bad Betty Press in 2018, her chapbook ‘just promise you won’t write’ was published by Gang Press in 2019, and her artist books have been collected and exhibited by the National Poetry Library and Chelsea College of Arts’ special collection. Her poems have appeared in magazines such as The Interpreter’s House, Zarf, Tentacular, Poetry Wales, Para•text and Datableed, as well as in a number of UK anthologies. Iris is the Co-Editor of HVTN Press, one of the editors of Pamenar Press and a founding member of the interdisciplinary collective ‘No Such Thing’.

 

 

 

 

2 Mar 2020

Dorothy Lehane: House Girl

 

 

 

the intersection where voyeurism 

meets the sick-fugue

 

 

we must unplug ourselves

unconscious at delta

 

we met in a sick building

trouble all over the face

 

the men gathered and tweezed the blood fluke

from the house girl’s throat

 

the cat performed a protective function

soaked up the gamma, theta, delta

 

it will be years before I understand

how to redress the failures

 

at the bridge at Waterman’s quarter

we were warned

 

the war is not in the air

it is deep in our bone marrow

 

downstream. in the reeds

careless with our bodies

 

weeping & welting

it was a turning on myself

 

an unworlding of heartache

an ending of gestural life

 

 

 

 

a Spinozian view of being a

maternal substance

 

 

sex drive as a pathology of empty phrases

love, what foul play

 

so impish and unrelenting

I was your girl but only with mannerisms

 

what do we hold in our bodies

so many sick hearts

 

let noise emerge from hardship

little house-girl

 

collapsed on one side

you can’t get out of the disease state

 

unless you have lived in it

pulse therapy for the house girl

 

in the absence of remission

organise the body according to the pluralist culture

 

a pretty demon

enters the house-girl

 

unprepared and exhausted

with socio-spatial anxieties

 

with a heavy jaw, & heft word play

it isn’t a secret that I feel irrelevant

 

 

 

 

still not dead but catalogued 

as a patient

 

 

& feeling irrelevant is a way of staying healthy

forcibly hunting for what has vanished

 

bearing the mark of the house-girl

whose epigenetic backtalk is just a perverse tracing

 

hewn up from the rehearsal of being in a body

Outside there is desire & ceremony

 

& they must be acted upon

the house girl has done the emotional work of ceremony

 

so I can live life in the margins of desire

the lilies are in my mouth again & I’m ready for seduction

 

everyday I think about the filth of my inquiry

how to rule my body from her mouth

 

blood-flukes are in her throat again

& my eyes are falling out

 

to itemise each wallowing

or push back against the credibility of the linear model

 

the house girl is waking at 4am

with sad lungs and a feeling of impermanence

 

that is to say,

occupying the grief corner

 

 

 

 

the uneasy stasis before agency 

like territories unfolding 

 

 

it is a matter of the finer details, the Eve condition

the final line when there is no finish line

 

inexhaustible over action & inaction

in the hope of privileging the body’s double coding

 

abuses in the woman-house

the knotty apology

 

that has failed the female for centuries

urges her to be self-detached

 

unwounded, the house girl develops

& recedes. in habitus

 

the charm itself is less than stable

a critical factor is knowledge of the hex

 

couldn’t fit you in the same plot

yet my mouth is on your shirt

 

at dawn, I am just a sick body

tracing words to the moment I mouthed them first

 

sero-negative

serum tells us nothing except

 

we’ll never again wear the clothes

we wore on diagnosis day

 

 

 

 

the event inside favours the complex

joints: shoulders and knees

 

 

at night, the house-girl reads about logic

to avoid the fallacies of possession

 

how many mouths have mouthed change is coming

in the hope of forming a new disposition

 

but logic only comes to the non-afflicted

& else operates in different realms

 

the men gather again with their own logic

tweezers to bone. stoic with the task

 

the house girl is stuck down

I am not sure if she is held

 

or holds herself

over-coding her screams

 

November stretches in both directions

my health is a forgery but nobody can see it

 

there is hiding the clapper bell

needles into the Earth’s flesh

 

& needles into the body

they say: try stay safe by separation

 

my brothers give me a Schlag-ruthe

they already know I’m a water witch

 

 

Dorothy Lehane is the author of four poetry publications: Bettbehandlung, (Muscaliet Press, 2018), Umwelt (Leafe Press, 2016), Ephemeris (Nine Arches Press, 2014) and Places of Articulation (dancing girl press 2014). She has read her work to audiences at Université Sorbonne, Ivy Writers, Paris, the Science Museum, the Wellcome Trust, the Barbican, the Roundhouse, BBC Radio Kent, and the Union Chapel, and has contributed on improvised collaborations, notably with synthesizer, Matthew Bourne. Recent poetry and reviews appear in Westerly Magazine and Modern Philology. She is the founding editor of Litmus Publishing and teaches Creative Writing at the University of Kent.

 

 

2 Mar 2020

Chris McCabe: Three Poems

BLOND REX

Blond Rex, what Illuminati confirms a bloodline exfoliating in seats of power, back acne weeping in Gucci shirts? What Illuminati, laminations of Jesus’s face, nominations for shortlists, where money multiplies money like a woodlouse nest? The road to excess leads to the palace of business, Illuminati knows it, confirms, conforms. Bonus Rex in the business lounge, cutting a tape on a social housing experiment, The Groucho at two, Miss Nebraska at eight. Because if it doesn’t grip : cut it; if it isn’t yours : twist it; if it has a mind : fuck it. If it doesn’t fit in the hand, in the bank, in the ass, then corrupt it, spit at its name, tweezer its tiny beating heart until the corpuscle pops. Pour another, take it out to the expanse, put it on expenses, drive it to the velodrome of a golf course, make it play Crusoe at a private pool. Illuminati knows it, confirmed it, forced it – & behind it all, a camera that was the magi at the birth of Blond Rex, documents its genesis.

 

AUTHORITY EXTENDS IN EIGHT DIRECTIONS

Authority extends downwards, a kestrel with a flint in its eye.

Glances over the heads of Trustees, a trellis pattern in the blue stitching of pressed suits.

North to the river & the spirit level of the Strand.

South. Why not? We all know what happened to Lear in Kent.

Downwards, movement at middle management can lead to a loss of claw : a weasel on a pretzel forage.

Remember West? The facing wind carries the scent of clotted inks.

East is Necropolis, a magic slate refreshes the white lies of Easter.

Feel your last hour in the gut? Authority collapses the eight pins of the compass.

 

THE BOTTOM LINE

The Bottom Line is a God,
The Bottom Line is a song that doesn’t stop,
The Bottom Line is what gets you up in the morning,
The Bottom Line is a gallows
you’ll hang anyone to meet, & sure
The Bottom Line should be met,
but you can’t make a votive offering to The Bottom Line,
you can’t make a God of The Bottom Line,
The Bottom Line forms a grid,
and through it goes the diverted sewerage of a black river …
the gates close at dusk, leave by eleven.

WELCOME to this new square mile
built on The Bottom Line.

 

Chris McCabe’s work crosses artforms and genres including poetry, fiction, non-fiction, drama and visual art. He was shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award in 2013 and his five collections of poetry include The Triumph of Cancer (Penned in the Margins, 2018), which is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. His first novel, Dedalus, was published by Henningham Family Press in 2018 and was shortlisted for the 2019 Republic of Consciousness Prize. His latest novel is Mud, a version of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth, set beneath Hampstead Heath. His non-fiction work includes an ongoing series of books which document his search to discover a great forgotten poet in one of London’s Magnificent Seven cemeteries; titles include In the Catacombs (2014), Cenotaph South (2016) and the The East Edge: Nightwalks with the Dead Poets of Tower Hamlets, all published by Penned in the Margins. He is the co-editor of The New Concrete: Visual Poetry in the 21st Century (Hayward Publishing, 2015) and the editor of Poems from the Edge of Extinction: An Anthology of Poetry in Endangered Languages (Chambers, 2019). He works as the National Poetry Librarian.

 

 

 

2 Mar 2020

Susan Adams: Onychophagia

The animation Onychophagia is from a series that emerged from my creative exchange with poet Lesley Saunders, part of a wider project supported by a Creative Wales Award from the Arts Council of Wales. Its frustrating when at times as an artist you feel you know yourself too well and you can predict the character of what you are about to make. Working with other artists in a way that you can talk to each other through your own particular language – be it words, music, image – can really help at such times, and come up with surprising and exciting results.

Lesley and I exchanged poems and images in response to each other’s offerings over a set time period; it was not only a matter of translating words into images and vice-versa, more a conversation… that created quite dark fictional spaces. Mostly these were home-spun stories, little murders, delicate dishes that gradually reveal themselves to be something less appetizing. I think Lesley was quite shocked to find herself in this gothic/domestic world while I learnt from the cool and almost detached pace with which she entered it. It couldn’t have been an irredeemably disturbing experience for Lesley as many of the poems from the collaboration were published in her collection Angels on Horseback, which won the The Poetry Business International Book and Pamphlet Competition 2016/17.

 

 

 

SUSAN ADAMS works in her studio in Wales crossing diverse media, including painting, sculpture, animation, printmaking and drawing. Her approach is imaginative and questioning, suggesting fragments of narratives that have grown from her love of literature, film and folk arts. She is interested in exploring the relationship between fantasy and reality and the locations in which these two worlds collide. She studied at the Slade and Norwich School of Art. She exhibits and lectures widely, also working as Artist in Residence in India, the USA and the UK including at ArtsAcre Calcutta, Millay Colony New York, WNO, Bardsey Island, Oriel Mostyn and Gloucester Cathedral.

 

 

2 Mar 2020

Sarah Crewe: Three Poems

To read Sarah Crewe’s poems click here: Three Poems

 

 

Sarah Crewe is a working class feminist poet from the Port of Liverpool. Her first poetry collection, floss, is available from Aquifer Books. She also produces mazie, a DIY zine of music reviews and poetry. Her poems have appeared in The Common Zine, amberflora, para.text, Cumulus, Datableed and the And Other Poems website. She has a MA in Poetry as Practice from the University of Kent.

 

 

 

 

2 Mar 2020

Peter Larkin: Skies in Flight of Tree

 

Skies in Flight of Tree, 1-5

 

1

Sky in breadth but no range in store, moreover there are trees     narrow assistant

tallness, poplars wedge a sky’s suspense

 

As skies drum onto land they bounce off horizon     the shock is trees absorbing

(rescaling) the derision

 

find adjacent

filter: one telescopic

flown speck is

another haven

speckled

 

earliest ascension

was sky in trunk,

not yet peeling

the earth

 

from one spurt

(foliage) to another,

the hurt is sky

not yet in grain

for launch

 

Headless stalks are no better prickles before windowless sky      streak it along a

tree’s brushway for actual take-off

 

Rarely at any world-search, the sky flies through it     then dived to see how

wingless in leaf it was

 

 

 

2

 

All over brief earth the heavens are secondary soil     trees assist it with aileron, one

flap a no longer grounded rotor

 

Curtained round mute shell, a thin fusilage from disaster     wingless before the

heavens’ own dispelling fabric

 

tenting its

ground, the forest

frets itself

vertical, no sheer

skyplay then

 

let sky waters pre-

serve a forest’s

own tidal

 

sky-dismantled

oak moving like

a tuft of cloud

 

A lesser into flight     woodland perfections obtain the poor-floor of that soaring

 

Havens at corner-stops, struts for any sky-bearing flight     nurtured surfaces on

universal glide

 

 

 

3

 

Woodland mirage of terrestrial fluttering     only quiet roots become aligned with

their hollow gutters, strict matters of sky

 

Adversary skies not accusative but resort to nominal forest     innocent of material

they cloak a sum of horizon which lets leaf risk them over:    shelter by traversal

threads

 

forest haven

grows ravenous

unless it taper

sky off a body

 

a warren of trees

least queasy

barrenness from

digesting sky

 

until the crowns

tilt (disenmesh)

what they rotate

 

Tree a living abject readily overflown     or a comet to a bush, hovers the gloom it

expels

 

New clouds over fusiform hurdles, only a sky could leap this wooded recession

lift from the attrition but never become its own vehicle

 

 

 

4

 

Carbon bunches reseeding the sun across its sky semi-dust     haven flotsam

preinjected at tree level

 

Unhoused in air but as free forest afloat     skies of adjacency no longer trivial

dispensers overhead

 

not yet a tall

bend in forest,

does make us

twist (not test)

the heavens

 

unclotted sky

new woodland

rinses it

 

less abutment

above unless

excerpted

in trees

 

The fleeting bearing of tree sessions (seasons) breeding (swooping) the sky:     let it

be in loft

 

Vertebrae by which the heavens flock back to themselves     not instructed but

trusted on distended root

 

A woodland will sow steep pasture (sky) along its after-root summits

 

 

 

5

 

A ridge bristling in spruce     needles massed against weightless flight in what

propagates (turbo-vents) positions of flight

 

Hovering like a no longer reeling beyond      betweenness mid-sky, granted its

horizontal graduals of ascent

 

air-worthy in

festoon, tree

mass dissolves

cloud morass

 

if predominance

of air then domes

of forest, commons

in steepage

 

launch (lunge)

its span, filter-

wards to

horizon

 

Where trees are hooded they parachute a sky gate-crashing earth     at which

uncrowned heavens billow out again

 

Horizon as carrier (encounter) will encircle only as forest pressed lobes to the sky

 

 

 

Peter Larkin contributed to The Ground Aslant: an Anthology of Radical Landscape Poetry, ed. Harriet Tarlo (2011). He has published several poetry collections; among the more recent are City Trappings (Housing Heath or Wood) in 2016 and Introgression Latewood in late 2017.  A symposium on his work was held at Warwick U (UK) in 2018, the proceedings to appear in the Journal of British & Irish Innovative Poetry. A new collection, Trees Before Abstinent Ground was published in late 2019.

 

 

 

 

2 Mar 2020

Frances Presley: Bristol Channel Sequence

‘Channels’ is a sequence about shore lines on opposite banks and how they correspond.  The focus is geological and marine, political and personal.   It begins with the Bristol channel – Wales and Somerset.   Politics and poetry are interwoven, especially post Brexit, when the channel can be both division and common waters.  Geology and coastal contours have influenced the language and layout of the poems, as have the movement of the sea and waves.  Eroding cliff strata due to global warming and life in rockpools are amongst our chosen locations

I have been working in collaboration with Tilla Brading and with poets in South Wales.  These are opportunities to explore both sides of what can be a political and linguistic, rather than a geographical divide, where the natural landscape works across divisions and we need to work with it.

Cardiff canal was filled in during the 1970s but its route can be traced down to the sea, as Steve Hitchins explains in The Lager Kilns.  He leads walks and performances along this and other canals in south Wales, called Canalchemy.  The former canal joined the sea at a lock now located beneath the A4232 overpass.  The Wetlands Reserve was created in 2002 when the Cardiff Bay Barrage was completed and saline mudflats turned into freshwater marshland and lake: ‘It’s an important site for migration and over-wintering birds, adjacent to the Five Star St David’s Hotel’.  We found Brexit graffiti on sea defence rocks above Penarth beach.  I took photos of Tilla Brading covering the word LEAVE with her body while Wanda O’Connor carefully scratched out the letters with a piece of alabaster from Penarth beach. leaving only V.

You can find recordings of Canalchemy events by Hitchins on Youtube and Soundcloud, including a reading on Penarth Head of my poem ‘Pull’ and poems by Wanda O’Connor, complete with the sound of crumbling rocks and the opening of the Cardiff Bay barrage: https://soundcloud.com/steven-hitchins/alabaster-torsos.

Tilla Brading has created a slide sequence of text and image from the graffiti intervention, which was shown at the ASLE-UKI conference in September 2019.

 

Click here to read Bristol Channel Sequence

 

Frances Presley’s publications include Paravane, 2004; Myne, 2006; Lines of Sight, 2009; An Alphabet for Alina, 2012; Halse for Hazel, 2014 and Sallow, 2016.  Ada Unseen, Shearsman2019, concerns Ada Lovelace and her life on Exmoor.  Presley’s work is in the anthologies Infinite Difference (2010), Ground Aslant: radical landscape poetry (2011) and Out of Everywhere2 (2015). 

2 Mar 2020

Rhea Seren Phillips: Worrying Sheep

Note to the Reader

My poems have been informed by poets who have used characteristics of the Welsh metrical tradition in English to explore a Welsh cultural identity. The strictness of cynghanedd varies throughout the collection. This represents a diverse modern Wales. Cynghanedd is an oral tradition and is often read aloud to an audience. I wanted to experiment with that tradition by sign posting where stressed, Welsh nasal mutations and soft syllables appear in the poems. I do this through capital letters, phonetics spelling of words, and the use of subscript to indicate unstressed words and superscript to indicate stressed words.

The collection from which this section has been taken has been split into three components: poetry and footnotes. This is intended to embody characteristics of cynghanedd. A line of cynghanedd has similarities to music and should be read in more than one direction. The footnotes often run onto consecutive pages. I have made the decision to keep the main page blank to avoid readers confusing footnotes with the wrong poem. Readers should read the poem, followed by the footnotes and then back to the consecutive poem. The use of footnotes is intended to encourage readers to look at the collection as a piece of music. This becomes an echo chamber that can be felt throughout the collection.

 

Click here to read Worrying Sheep

 

 

Rhea Seren Phillips is a PhD student at Swansea University (2016-2020). She is researching how the Welsh metrical tradition in English could be used to reconsider a modern Welsh cultural identity. Her poetry has appeared in Molly Bloom, Tears in the Fence, Edge of Necessary: Welsh Innovative Poetry 1966-2018 (Boiled String and Aquifer Press), Poetry Wales, Parallel Cymru, Envoi, The Lonely Crowd, The Luxembourg Review, Black Bough among others. Rhea runs a website dedicated to the promotion of the Welsh metrical tradition in English (https://grandiloquentwretch.wordpress.com/).

 

2 Mar 2020

Antony John: Three Poems

Antony John’s poetry has appeared in magazines, pamphlets and anthologies, including Erotoplasty, Tentacular, datableed, Leg Avant (Crater), Jawjaw (Gang Press) and Antologia Bilingue Po-Ex (G0 Ediciones, Chile). His poems have been published in two collections, most recently KENYA which followed his first book now than it used to be, but in the past (both Veer).

Click here to read Three Poems by Antony John

 

 

 

 

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