Friday, March 11, 2011

The storm runs forth on several seas

Harriet Tarlo's anthology of radical landscape poetry The Ground Aslant, which I previewed in an earlier post, has now been published.  Shearsman have made the book's introduction available to download on their website, so there's no real need for me to summarise its contents.  Here instead is an unrepresentative sequence of quotations (copyright prevents the inclusion of whole poems), chosen to provide 'some landscapes' from each of the sixteen poets, starting with the editor:

Black Combe crest

       over ridges                      shale spit line
                                         pale marram dunes           (their small sea-bright
                                                                                  trefoils and succulents) ...

- from 'Outcrops at Haverrig', by Harriet Tarlo

                                    ...between loss and consolidation
                                       in the hollow of the dune slack

- from the second short poem in Thomas A. Clark's sequence 'The Grey Fold'

                                   ... the new salt marsh
                                       no more freshwater
                                       the salt line
                                       grey grass
                                       bleached trees
                                       byre useless ...

- from the April section of 'Myne' by Frances Presley, on a walk from Greenaleigh to Porlock Bay

                                     ... I hear mud rustle
                                     ducks come in to land
                                     tide recedes in intensity

                                     blood filled hands
                                     I mean lands
                                     the duck glides
                                     and lands

- from 'lights' by Ian Davidson, whose afterword to his collection At a Stretch worries that 'there may be too much landscape' in his poetry...

                  ...  At Kingwater the stream plashes
     kingcups over the green ironbridge, pupae to dust wedges
     and rust coloured reflections of trees in water.
     Flag irises, rhododendrons.  Out of focus pine trees, lacking their bitmap,
     alive only in geological time. ...

- from 'The Stars Have Broken in Pieces' in which Nicholas Johnson passes through the landscape of northern England, from Derbyshire to Cumbria

                       through white trees nothing said
                                     the edges grow sharper the hills
                                                     farther away with each degree

- from 'Gwydyr Forest' by Zoë Skoulding

                    ...This is a wood you increase by coming-out-of-it -
                       out into the snow with a sawing motion of it -
bear-lope        muskrat-ramble     badger-trundle            marten-amble...

- from 'Carcajou' by Colin Simms, poet and naturalist who was the subject of an earlier post here

Trees pale in knot but nowhere in cooped flux of them, not-bending swivels a sky foldlessly relenting.  Leaning skyward can't suffer on the slant, only drawn off slope by the unholdable intimacy of vertical separation.

- from 'Lean Earth Off Trees Unaslant, 3' by Peter Larkin

... a little light at dusk by which to sit and read the blanched white ash-stems reaching sky
       ward the steep woody tangle above the tumbling stream each stem gleams in the January dull ...

- from Wendy Mulford's 'Alltud: 'exile'', part of a description of the Wye valley at Erwood in Powys

                    Snow has settled in the lines
                    Of an old ridge-and-furrow system
                    Striping the gently sloping dark
                    Green fields, engrossed script
                    Of duration, repetition, authority...

- from 'Prelude' by Peter Riley

                   the feeding of one into the landscape results
                   in a climbing to infinity this opens the labour of a day
                   the task is to find a distribution of fields
                   and from these the truth of this place ...

the first lines of Carol Watts' Zeta Landscape, which the author has described as "lyric nature poetry put under pressure"

                      scarp    along Don's arc shall   ow hanging
                      loops of pow   er-line   pylons   dull silvery
                      frames holding   dead space live   to shock oak

                      leaves pat drips & drop   rain through fractal

- from 'Rurban Membrane, A Sheffield Rim, North East' by Mark Goodwin

                                       ... Eyes

                                    pull on
                    contours held in common:
                 plough through   brick, steel, steads
                       under cooling towers, the soils
              worn thin for nitrogen ...

- from 'aurals' by Tony Baker, a landscape seen on 'the journey toward Mansfield'       

                                   ... seductive flowertrails
                                       penetrate the hills where we confront
                                       the ambiguity of wayposts &
                                       clouds that distil a thin
                                       gleet ...

    - from 'Lady's Bedstraw (Gallium verum) / Quantocks' by Elisabeth Bletsoe, who, as reported here, I saw at the second Re-Enchantment event last year

                            The storm runs forth on several seas whose manner is
                            the hard edge of a clamber down gneiss...

    - the opening words of 'Dale' by Helen MacDonald 

                                          Ripples take
                                          mackerel from
                                          imbues dew.

                                          Dew jewels more
                                          obviously ground.

                                          no shadow but
                                          the arc
                                          amongst crystals

    - from the 'High clouds base >20,000 feet' column of a tabular poem, one of a sequence called The Speed of Clouds by Mark Dickinson

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