a lot like death): “I desire the beauty contained within the slant of the poem.”
“Avril was a lilac / potassium flame”, writes John McCullough in ‘Quantum’, an elegy for chemistry teacher Avril Brown, which accelerates beyond the circumstances of her murder to imagine her as a subatomic particle, invincible, existing across all time. “Don’t you see how the once is all I had…” laments Mary Meriam in ‘Elegy for Sally Jane’, a sonnet in which the word “once” appears six times, as if to demonstrate how a poem performs its magic trick of extending a single moment into infinity. Rereading these pages, I have been moved to dwell among those people and peoples brought back to life here, the named and the nameless – the enslaved workers haunting Kimberly Reyes’ ‘a constitution’, or John Clare calling to us down the centuries from his asylum in Jane Feaver’s essay revisiting his poem ‘I am’.
Barthes resolved the problem of not wanting to write about his mother’s death by doing so anyway. August 1978: “My suffering is inexpressible but all the same utterable, speakable. The very fact that language affords me the word ‘intolerable’ immediately achieves a certain tolerance.” “will it all come good?” asks an interlocutor in Fran Lock’s ‘Red Biddy’. I don’t know, but at least we have words –
the words of poets a hundred or hundreds of years dead – their words that would not be held back