Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Simon Armitage

One of my favourite contemporary poets is Simon Armitage (though the one I'd really like to like but find almost impenetrable no matter how many attempts I make to read her is Anne Carson).

I'm just reading his recent book Tyrannosaurus Rex Versus the Corduroy Kid and the poems are by turns funny, moving and poignant

I'm also looking forward to reading his new translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight which I've enjoyed since I first read Tolkien's version many years ago. I wouldn't mind reading his new version of the Odyssey as well, but as good as our city library is, when it comes to poetry, if it's not CanLit, then they aren't likely to have it if it's less than 50 years old


Northerner, this is your stop. This longhouse
of echoing echoes and sooted glass,
this goth pigeon hangar, this diesel roost
is the end of the line. Brace and be brisk,
commoner, carry your heart like an egg
on a spoon, be fleet through the concourse, primed
for that point in time when the world goes bust,
when the unattended holdall or case
unloads its cache of fanaticized heat.

Here’s you after the fact, found by torchlight,
being-less, heaped, boned of all thought and sense.
The camera can barely look. Or maybe,
just maybe, you live. Here’s you on the News,
shirtless, minus a limb, exiting smoke
to a backdrop of red melt, onto streets
paved with gilt, begging a junkie for help.



A walk, not more than a mile,
along the barricade of land
between the ocean and the grey lagoon.
Six of us, hand in hand,

Connected by blood. Underfoot
a billion stones and pebbles -
new potatoes, mint imperials,
the eggs of birds -

Each rock more infinitely formed
than anything we own.
Spoilt for choice - which one to throw,
which one to pocket and take home.

The present tense, although
some angle of the sun, some slant of light
back-dates us thirty years.
Home movie. Super 8.

Seaweed in ropes and rags.
The weightless, empty armour
of a crab. A jawbone, bleached
and blasted, manages a smile.

Long-shore drift,
the ocean sorts and sifts,
giving with this, getting back
with the next.

A sailboat thinks itself
across the bay.
Susan, nursing a thought of her own,
unthreads and threads.

The middle button of her coat.
a colony of nesting terns
makes one full circle of the world

then drops.
But the beach, full of itself,
each round of rock
no smaller than a bottle top,

no bigger than a nephew's fist.
One minute more, as Jonathan, three, autistic,
hypnotised by flight and fall
picks one more shape

and, underarms the last wish of the day -
look, like a stone - into the next wave.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That book he did with Glyn Maxwell called "Moon Country" is a deep favorite of mine.