Reasons, by Rupert M Loydell – Hesterglock Press
Reasoning is to do with logic and calculation, assessing and rationalising, asking and answering, persuading and cajoling – this list could obviously go on and on. It is an essential capacity/urge. It is compulsive. It is necessary.
As ever, writer Rupert Loydell takes such a colossal element of who and what we are as thinkers and explores this through everyday poetic touchstones that resonate with familiarity and insight. His poetic reasoning confronts the variety and vicissitudes of that very mental activity so that we as readers can share in understanding his and our living.
The opening poem Reasons to Believe is perhaps the most ostensibly rhetorical. Tackling belief in God, mental health, the darkness of being – there are no answers to the many urgent questions making it seemingly unreasonable to be searching, and all that is offered isn’t much under the weight of that not knowing,
….in the dark,
waiting for a glimpse of light, moments of calm,
distant voices raised in memorable song.
The next poem Reasons to Stay Alive – as if needing these is a natural enough requisite – takes a more domestic turn down the same dark alley, speaking of a friend suffering despair too,
He’s up to his neck in it, scared and ill,
with a daughter who feels the same.
One is never sure in the reading if the poems are autobiographical or wholly externalised [though this latter seems unlikely] and I know it shouldn’t matter and doesn’t, especially as it is in the sharing of common experience – whether personal or externalised for readers – that makes them compelling to read. Thus the rumination in I Had My Reasons (Hold Tight),
……If I look back now
I had been stressed or depressed
(possibly both) several years before…
is resolved, as much as it could be, in the universal ending of,
No-one tells you life gets harder
as the days and years go by.
You obviously have to read these apparently prosaic lines within the context of their poetic narratives, but it is the very ‘ordinariness’ that makes them immediately meaningful.
Reasons To Be Cheerful begins comically cynical,
and we are then reminded of the continuing darkness in the following poem Beyond Reason,
I should be dead soon, read his text,
but I didn’t know if it was a self-aimed
imperative, or an update from the front
line of another suicide attempt.
Turns out to have been the latter.
There is the other classically existential view that gets explored as well: all this reasoning is by its nature challenging and/or depressing and we all want an exciting way out. Therefore in The Voice of Reason,
I want to be unreasonable, want
to take a running jump from the end
of the pier, want to shout and scream
and drink too much, want my friend
to stop trying to die, my car to start
when I want it to.
From the edge of the abyss [if only pier-end high] to the vagaries of the car starting, the excitement is, Loydell reasons, always going to be largely realistic.
And it is this realism that makes these poems, as I have said, resonate. There is little point in just asking us as readers big questions if there aren’t some answers, no matter how small. The process of human reasoning happens every day for all of us and it is usually pragmatic rather than philosophical because that way we carry on. We leave it to writers like Loydell to ask himself the questions many of us avoid on that day to day basis, and in that asking we have our own voices expressed through a poetry that is his trademark: accessible but poignant, thoughtful but without being pretentious, lyrical but conversational, and confessional without fear of that honesty.
[further details and where and how to purchase can be found here]