Saturday, 21 April 2007

That Night at the Torriano Meeting House (3/4)

One conspirator in this “we” q.v. was James, who had it going on. His stuff was carefully-scaled, well-travelled, and interested in myth, art and objects and their geometrical and mathematical underpinnings. There was a kind of agitated Imagism in some of it, a careful but not necessarily sparing concern with the thing.

The opening poem, for example, coolly described the body of a bird as hydraulic structure capable of flight (though without taking the shortcut, as I’ve done, of invoking a machine-metaphor), adding, “The trumpet player standing erect and relaxed, / holding up the trumpet with the mouth piece touching his lips, plays.”

The things which were dissolved into careful descriptions did not tend to leave the membranes established prior to dissolution. I think that’s because the poetry collaborated with other arts – painting, music, sculpture, but also e.g. anatomy, statistics – and sought to respect the integrity of the objects borrowed from those domains. “[...] in front of me were eight multi-dimensional right-angled corners marking a material cuboid [...].” But in places they were haunted by the alternative – by familiar things dissolved, and unfamiliar things reconstituted from their slime. Inasmuch as the poems explored this possibility they became less conceptually accessible (though of course that accessibility does not map straightforwardly onto emotional valence).

One of the ones I enjoyed the most, by the by, fits these generalisations quite badly; it was called “The Juggler”: “[...] adds more balls / to keep the past and present up there / though his love has fallen to her death / and so much is happening / and eyes open on every ball / to look outwards not in”.

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