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Saturday 25 August 2007

Two Poets

No doubt, it's the time of the year: it's been a while now since this sort of excitement, but this morning (Saturday), two such, both in The Guardian.

First there was The Saturday Poem. There is always the Saturday poem, of course, but not always with the freshness (for me, it had that freshness) and excitement of this morning. "Autumn Collection" by Luke Kennard, was the piece in question. I had not heard of him, nor of Mimi Khalvati. Her "The Meanest Flower" was the subject of this morning's Poetry Review. So, not just a couple of new poems, but the buzz of two new poets.

The quotes from her book passed my first test: they were not stock poems, my ears did not complain that they had heard this, or something like it, before - even though, as Charles Bainbridge points out in the review, the title is taken from Wordsworth's "Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood", and "the book as a whole could be seen as an on-going conversation with that wonderful meditation on childhood and loss". Indeed, the book is inspired by Shakespeare's songs, the short poems of Emily Dickinson, and Wordsworth's "Lucy" poems, and by the way in which weeds spread ubiquitously. Along the way, Khalvati experiments with the Ghazal, an ancient Persian form composed of an unrhymed couplets. Here she is, in a sonnet sequence, speaking of a family as though they were flowers - or is it the other way around?

"As if they were family, flowers surround you.
As if they were a story-book, they speak.
They speak through eyes and strange configurations
on their faces, markings on petals, whiskers,
mouth-holes and pointed teeth. They are related
to wind. Wind is a kind of godfather, high up
in the branches. They’re willing you to listen
to them, not him."

Obviously, I have not read the book - yet. But I have done some research on the web (There is a mass of material; she has been around for a long time, and I really should have known all about her.), enough to guarantee to myself - and you - that the whole oeuvre would be worth a good, long look.

For a good introduction to Khalvati, Click Here where you can read some of her verses and/or listen to her reading them.

But before I move on, here are some lines from "Mirrorwork" in which she is using Islamic mirror mosaics (She was born in Tehran, but left at the age of six and went back only briefly during her late teens and early twenties.) as the skeleton to bring the work together as a functioning whole.

'We are the thought of something not itself.
Each fragment whole, each unit split, but
dovetailed, one wall, one dome, in whose
muddied lakes of colour swim the blues
of a bag, green rings of a skirt. We
are the hall of mirrors, a fine mosaic,
the mirrorwork in which not even Kings
can see themselves.'

Luke Kennard seems not to be as well established, which is not surprising in one so young (a PhD student who also happens to be the youngest writer ever nominated for the prestigious Forward Poetry Prize, this for his collection "The Harbour Beyond the Movie".

Here are the first and last verses from "Autumn Collection"

There was dancing but no music.
The liquidambar scattered its leaves;
I played jacks with the Intuit girl.

Many of us have our own versions of events
Engraved one over the other on monuments
Erected one on top of the other.

1 comment:

Ray Banhoff said...

hi. do you know the italian poet mario luzi? i speak english but it's difficult for me read poetry in your language.
greetings from Italia
near Florence