Several commentators on recent books blogs have said they'd like to see a discussion of Roddy Lumsden's poetry, and PotW's own MeltonMowbray posted a request earlier this year. So for this week's poem, I've chosen one of my favourites from Lumsden's latest collection, Terrific Melancholy. I hope aficiandos and new readers alike will enjoy the elegiac virtuosity of "Square One."
Panning shots of the razzmatazz of contemporary London begin with an unnaturally motionless River Thames, which contrasts with the surrounding fluidity of endless construction and self-invention. The location is mirrored in spirited, slangy diction, and a repetitive device that stitches all together in bright gold lamé thread. On the page, you almost see the green light. Read the poem aloud, and you hear the gunning of engines in the repetition of the hard "g" – described in phonetics as a voiced, velar stop.
Big top today dishes the anonymous lover, fans and supporters in Camberwell, Camden, Chingford, Chigwell and place, poise, warmth & the crystal wit of a fine dining connoisseur; thrash poetry’s trashing objective alveolar noun, adjectival astonishment, vowel sounds cranked out in the exercise of loving the bloodaxe; a frond of salient pink, red and blue, thrusting upward ever deeper into minds on the edge of exercise itself; a liminal invisible bind and verve all sense knowing its rule adheres to trad ‘n’ po-mo – any mix of these eerily erotic earlier Mac Low collections perfectly speaking what’s in front of us before and after time, telling deaf the world to c’mon, take comfort in a slow burning professorial gaze through madeup words welding instinctive spontaneity poised debating the precept, premise, pre-textual urge and desire to be actual.
Thank you for this. It’s not a gimmick, but a privilige to read, Square One. Thanks for sharing how it came about. I thought it may have been written at speed as I read it.
The spontaneous Monopoly conceit-challenge – mirrored in a form condusive to composing at speed - evident now you tell us – is not disimilar in conception to the ‘Gerry McNamara five-word poem’ more positive exercise that makes up the first half of Cork’s weekly open mic poetry night. O Bheal publish an annual best-of anthology made up of the best spontaneously composed poems written over the year.
The first anthology in the series (precursing by several years Salt’s best-of) is made up of poems composed during the original weekly Write and Recite open mic poetry night at the height of the noughtie 04-07 Dublin period in boom-boom-boom. The rule is write a poem in which must appear five words, shouted out at random by the crowd, decided by mob democracy, written down by McNamara and by us the audience, who then have the length of a pint and cigarette break to come up with a text we choose to read aloud, or not. The winner’s decided by audience consent, and nominal prizes Gerry brought in week to week – often pens, occassionally sex toys, once, I recall, balloons… or were they envelopes and paper? Yes, yes. The one week I came close to winning. Second. I won a jotter. Or was it a plastic sabre?
I know I took some prizes home on occassion, unwanted by the winners, wandering crowds through dark warmth, cold or coolness Dublin noughties heyday, swathes of bouyant people peforming as both audience and acts, early in the week at night; Westmoreland Bridge, O’Connel Plaza, Fleet Street, the old Irish Times, Mail, Sun, Star, Herald and Echo, echo, c’mon get the echo poetically here shuttling back and forth this week.
A pleasure to read, and a privilege to own a weary fortysomething’s strap-on vibe narrrator Lumsden, noughtie London – sense the jousting dons in autumnal light facing away, maintaining breath, poised warm balanced behind a line ahead of time itself, sincerely brilliant blatherer playing in words that wrote the critical doctrine of this scene and, certainly a majority of poetry scenes about the place today, took their cue from. This forum is a testament to you. Long may you reign as the one actuality in it, curated by depressive, jealous hipsters fine dining & with it, in a consituency au fait with what dish of the day is.
Our prize today is watching riots on television.
Transparently satirical, the witty, warm & shy
few with contingencies and copies of it burnt,
one five-word poem, detaining the attention
of an audience’s sincerely expressed sense of play,
spontaneous, effervesent, marvelous exhuberance
handling of form. I am very impresed. It has a contemporary conceit to it that authenticates the obvious and in doing so offers up some discussion about ourselves and bespeaking mystery hidden in form’s firm sight, in lines laid yummily on the ultra-modern page, here-and-now curiously angled - asking more of us than we of it, perhaps? Yes, yes.
Massive happy hugs c’mon yes you talented bardstick, square one lying in this poem fictionally speaking actual faith in this the reversal of time, poetry and a space in which a follower can grow into a fan proper, effecting one to praise text by turning it into write-through oulipo and experimental poetique vie itself, authenticating who share twenty six letters, one square chord and the truth – with which to compete for what we receive from fate in poetry proposed on the rational premise, in which our language genders itself, s/he the langpo nightmare KO’ed by vie poetique bores-at-dawn in a face off. Henry Moon v Lloyd Paterson, Scunthorpe Rovers, Dame St. Doncaster’s ground, south of here a very poetic place, participatory perspicacious invention, extempore flyte and flail, Bloodaxe of the actual poet and collegiate fan, the grave impersonal and friendly best-of man, c’mon you diamond, you mentor you legend.