Seven Days IV: The Voyage Home

Home sweet home, jetlag sweet jetlag. Went to do a reading in town last night and almost forgot my poems. Sleep now, please, please, let me sleep.

I'm going to have leave you hanging until Tuesday for Stephen Crane and the last instalment, the last few days of April. Crane is buried in the bottom of my bag somewhere from last week's convention. A few days left to fit him in though – it'll be okay.

Here are this week's seven (and fyi click here for parts one, two and three of this NaPoReMo thing):

Adélia Prado, Selected Poems: The Mystical Rose (Bloodaxe, 2014)
Poetry as a protagonist. Talks to poetry about god. Talks about god. Poetry is god. Talks from a conservative religious background in Brazil. Talks about lust and sex from this perspective. All first person. All about desire and personality and observation. As you move through the poems chronologically it feels like love comes out more and more, as does graphic desire and celebration, and the use of characters – all given somehow as gifts of words, as a way to try and find god, perhaps.

Fiona Moore, Night Letter (HappenStance Press, 2015)
Hauntings and blue ghostly middle-of-the-night musings. London landscape and urban nature, but being alone in it. A pamphlet with lots of different shapes of poems, united by the sense of sleeplessness and grief. A sort of 'later on' grief, less raw, but no less devastating. Beautifully crafted. Why doesn't Fiona have a book out yet? Fiona should have a book out.

Sarah Lindsay, Debt to the Bone-Eating Snotflower (Copper Canyon Press, 2013)
Similarities in a way to the Prado above, at least in terms of the flow of the free verse and the sense of searching, but this collection feels like its world requires ecological attention and better conservation practices more than it needs god. Though it is about faith too, in moments, in a way. Also: science. Dark humour. Poetry of naturaul history and curiosities made lyrical. Snotflowers, octopi, cosmic turtles and, gradually, humans. And history. The deteriorating inscription later on (losing words, and more words, over time, in each poem) is a great endnote. Someone recommended this to me and I can't remember who. (ABJ?) Thank you, friend, this was a wonderful read.

Kei Miller, Kingdom of Empty Bellies (The Heaventree Press, 2005)
Early Kei book here, and very interesting. So many familiar themes – the lives of women, devotion, the experience of Caribbean life. And use of patois too, perhaps a little less so than in later works. Feels like building. An ode for a Jamaican monkey escaped from the zoo. A run of 'Rum Bar Stories' written after cocktail recipes. A lot of intimate portraits, stepping stones along a narrative way. Such good endings.

Kayo Chingonyi, The Colour of James Brown's Scream (Akashic Books, 2016)
I wanted to bring this pamphlet out as a warmup for Kayo's first collection that's coming out next month. Very musical, both in the sense that he talks a lot about music, growing up with it, and also in the sense that he's running words up against each other in interesting musical ways. (The first four words are "drum-brush of fabric" – the uhs, the bs, the rs, the punctuating ic...) Some poems from the 'calling a spade a spade' sequence here too, which I love, which is so charged, and which I hope there will be more of in the full collection too.

Louis Jenkins, North of the Cities (Will o' the Wisp Books, 2007)
This book is a mystery. I have no idea how I came by it. A collection of prose poems by Louis Jenkins from Duluth, who I don't think I've seen read before. Ah wait. He read at the Aldeburgh festival in 2007 – I must have picked it up at the festival bookshop years later, tempted by the prosiness of the poems. These are lovely, gentle, plainspeaking prose poems, with a nice section in the middle that focuses on animals. Fine dry humour. Squirrels and baseball.

Oli Hazzard, Craig Syfyrddin, or Edmund's Tump (If a Leaf Falls Press, 2017)
A pamphlet mixture of texts: sort of diary-style and note-form annotations seemingly from various climbs up the tump (a hill in Wales – the notes I think are all about approaching it from different directions, under different conditions), interspersed with linebroken verse. A sort of non-repetitive look at repeating events, or journeys, and how they are layered on top of each other, like history is layered on top of itself in any given single place. Pip pip. Very good indeed. Want to go back in and slink around in it for a bit. Sleepy recollection prompts me to search, and finds that you can listen to it here, too, when he was on The Verb reading it last year.

That's me for now. Last few books for the end of April coming along on Tuesday, along with a few thoughts about how to read poems. Or, at least, how I read poems.

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