Sunday, 24 July 2016

Small shards of clear or coloured glass

10:23. Bells ringing in the abbey, the sun chalky, a light fitful breeze. Last night to the Gatehouse Press launch of Dark Pool Ripple by Mike Saunders together with five other readers, including three I had taught: Angus Sinclair, Laura Elliott and Edwin Kelly, as well as two new to me, Isabella Martin and a young woman whose name I didn't catch. 

The fact is they and the audience were all young, perhaps just five or six older ones in the audience, including Clarissa and I. Very few of the readings were straight poetry and all read firmly hybrid texts that begin somewhere, move through a list of images and ideas, then stop. The poetry is in the nature of the hybridity, the language now concrete and sensuous, the next abstract and conceptual.

This was particularly the case with Dark Pool Ripple, a pamphlet, it was explained, primarily about finance. The reading of the text was colourless, a deliberate choice I assume, since in between the texts the address was informal, funny, self-deflating and intimate. I found it hard to be drawn into language as thoughts about financial concepts and thought more about dark pools than markets. But that is the nature of the pamphlet and, presumably of the mind that created it. The programme of the pamphlet is clear enough: it is a criticism of neo-liberal economics, and that is enough to draw sympathy from everyone present and all its likely readers. I'd find it hard to imagine a poetic text in favour of it. This was a way of using its own terminology against itself.

The support readings, though short, sang more clearly in the naked ear. Fascinating to hear the old students, all three of whom have gone on and are continuing to publish. They too read hybrid texts moving easily yet abruptly between registers, some notational (Laura), some more conceptual (Angus), and some visionary and, in this case, directly related to specific experiences of nature (Edwin) but none of them exclusively in one key.

All the readings showed evidence of theoretical sophistication. It was, in some respects, the theory that produced the hybridity which is itself partly a distrust of the lyric voice as engaged in the lyrical text and partly an echo of the manner in which information now reaches us. The self is displaced, or rather pushed a little off-centre together with what the self conceives as an integral field and we end with small shards of clear or coloured glass.

Dark Pool Ripple was on sale alongside Edwin's And After This I Saw, his selections from the work of Julian of Norwich. That had appeared two years ago while we were in Singapore so I had completely missed it. Finding both him and the pamphlet there seems=ed part of a series of coincidences whereby our dear friend, the Japanese poet, Mariko Nagai, currently resident in Norwich is researching Julian of Norwich, and another old friend Sally-Ann Lomas has just had her documentary on Julian shown on BBC4.  All this had sent me back to Julian too. For further reading around Edwin's work with Julian see here.

So Julian is in the air.

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