Skip to main content
Read page text

become nothing’, writes Sandeep Parmar in her poem sequence ‘FAUST’, which engages with Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s language and ideas. Can there be something beautiful in this nothing, this disappearing act, where found words or ideas take over? Are we not like the characters in Parmar’s poem, ‘girls in another century baring our arms in an inhabited garden’? The garden of poetry is already inhabited; we are not alone. The speaker in Peter Gizzi’s poem ‘Dissociadelic’ similarly suggests we have ‘crossed over into ink’, fusing with language itself. This fusion reflects there being something both different and utterly familiar: ‘inside the song’ we find ‘Blurs. Gestures. Something loved.’ But rather than all this being a hopeless realisation, the poem urges: ‘When you’re brought to your knees, / sing a song of praise’. A cure for many things, including the speaker’s dissociation, might just be the ‘black shimmer’ of text on a page. Perhaps this is the dance of many of the poems within these pages, something found and intertextual yet something unique and idiomatic. ‘Far-fetched, // a line comes back / to meet itself ’ writes Rae Armantrout in her poem ‘Proof ’ as if to illustrate this.

Other hauntings occur here too. ‘If you endure at all, you do so transmuted and scattered’, writes Fran Lock in her elegiac and celebratory tribute to Roddy Lumsden. Influence, and Lumsden’s was vast, is a voice ‘simultaneously summoned and distorted’ proposes Lock. Maybe this intertextuality, this foundness, is a beneficent haunting of sorts: new work is always in conversation with what has come before. ‘Death itself has lost’, declares the late Iliassa Sequin in her ‘Quintet 7’. Of course, death has not lost and we grapple with it in the world of poetry just as in the larger world, but we protest it with language, both found and fresh. In his long poem ‘BESIDE SEASONAL’, J.H. Prynne sets about revivifying and skilfully ‘ransack[ing]’ the haunted, even derelict, structures of English itself writing a bestiary of sorts, teeming with ‘bee-hives’, ‘reindeer’ and ‘white mice’ with all their ‘billow [and] burrow’. And in Carol Watts’ topical sequence ‘Ghost Ponds’, the land’s topography becomes an arena for resistance against oppression where ‘inert & dormant seeds’ might spring forth, bringing back life. Perhaps this, then, is the dance of the words in this issue – new life, a liveliness, stemming from ghosts. ‘Lavender sprouts through the corpse’, writes Breathnach in his response to Eliot; lilac and hyacinth bloom again, only refracted, queered.

Andre Bagoo and Richard Scott

My Bookmarks

    Skip to main content