a slightly different grasp
& my golden drops are stags’
synchronous gold clicks
of both calipers mean
go, apex & autumn leaves
are go, low winter
sun is a carpet of blinding white gold
into the light & through
its curtain & the reverse camber
Here’s the recording of my contribution to the 2013 Voiceworks project, a collaborative music/song and poetry enterprise that runs yearly between Birkbeck and The Guildhall. I worked with composer Roman Benedict and Soprano Chloe Schaaf, and this is what it sounded like in the end. The piece was performed at the rather grand Wigmore Hall; Roman and I were surprised by a video camera and asked to talk about our process after the concert. The text I wrote was called ‘Vox-Box’, developed in collaboration with Roman and Chloe. The final written text is here: VOXBOX
A foray into installation art: I have been trying my acquisitive hand at viciously appropriating land, as part of the extremely idyllic LEAF (Little Ecological Arts Festival). The idea, partly thrust upon me by festival organiser Bruno Roubicek, was to do something generated by my phd project, partially on the enclosure of the commons around the end of the eighteenth century in England. It turns out that the festival space, the ridiculously lovely Albion Millennium Green in Forest Hill, is pretty much the only remaining scrap of Sydenham Common, itself a survivor of a much larger area of natural oak forest. As a result of this hasty research, I wrote a poetic information sheet to be taken from the installation, which also attempts to think through some of the lexis used in different parts of the UK for land appropriation before the term ‘enclosure’ became the norm. Some of these words are fanatastically evocative. The text is here: In Little Parcels
The use of the space itself was improvised: I arrived on Wednesday morning, was directed towards what was to be my bramble patch, given some rope, card, a black marker, stakes and assorted household miscellanea, and sort of made it up. Probably shouldn’t admit that. Does that count as a methodology? Oh, and I ended up reading the text one evening alongside linus slugg‘s bugs to cover for a delayed Welsh praise singer, too.
All photography by Bruno Roubicek
Very emocionado to see an article I wrote quite a while back now on one of my favourite poets, the late & missed Roger Langley, finally end up in PN Review. It’s about birds, the strange British obsession with watching them, how they’re represented and arranged in field books, the history of ornithological art and what any of that might have to some of Langley’s very fine birdy poetry. Think there’s a paywall on the site, but I’m happy to send my Word doc version of the text if anyone doesn’t subscribe and for some reason shares this pretty niche confluence of interests and actually wants to read the thing.
I have recently given up trying to convince WordPress it wants to format poems correctly. In lieu of which, here’s A Sheaf of Poems, some old, some new.
‘Vox-Box (text for voice & music)’ is a work-in-progress text written alongside and in collaboration with composer Roman Benedict and singer Chloe Schaaf from Guildhall School of Music and Drama, as part of the rather fun Voiceworks programme. There’ll be a performance of all this year’s pieces at the scarily-grand Wigmore Hall on the 21st MAY….
This is a translation of a Son Jarocho tune by the contemporary Mexican Son band Son de Madera. Son Jarocho is a traditional style from the state of Veracruz. It’s a pretty loose translation semantically in places, as I wanted to try to render it in the phrasal idioms of English folk music while also retaining the original rhyme scheme. Also the penultimate line has a verb that is very difficult to hear, and no text of the lyrics seems to know what it’s meant to be (‘desvestir’, which people reckon it might be, could refer to the metaphorical baring of the soul, but in grammatical context still doesn’t make too much sense - suggestions please!), so I have approximated something that seems reasonable & not too noticeable.
Aunque yo por ti esté triste / no me matará al coraje // Although this sorrow is for you / my courage it will not kill (x2)
Olvido que ya no me aflije / yo proseguiré mi viaje // I’ll forget the harm you do me / my journey will go on (x2)
Al igual que el arrecife / no me rendirá tu oleaje // By your waves I won’t be covered / like the reef I’ll be standing still (x2)
Soy preso de este apostento / soló por quererte amar // I’m held prisoner in this room / only by my love for you (x2)
Oigo las olas del mar / que no cesan ni un momento // I hear the waves of the sea / and not for a second do they cease (x2)
Ni el tiempo ni la distancia / ni la ausencia de no verte // Neither for the absence long / nor the distance from you (x2)
Por ninguna circunstancia / yo he dejado de quererte // For no such reason / have I ceased to love you (x2)
A + B
Lo dulce de tu mirar / era como un mar en calma // The sweetness of your face / was like a sea asleep (x2)
El perfume que tu exhalas / me invitaba a navegar // The sweet smell you exude / tempted me to sail (x2)
Para hacerme naufragar / en el fondo de tu alma // Only for to wreck myself / in your soul’s deep (x2)
A + B
Un cuerpo se aleja triste / rumbo a las olas del mar // In the sad sea’s ways and waves / a body drifts along (x2)
Un pescador lo desviste(?) / Otro lo mira pasar // A fisherman sees it (sic) / another watches it pass (x2)
El horizonte no existe / ese ya es otro cantar / ese ya es otro cantar…. // And the horizon’s already gone / but that’s another song / but that’s another song…(x2)
B X mucho!