It isn’t new but still a good idea, an anthology with an eclectic mix of writers responding to a single stimulus, here the image The Poet by Joel-Peter Witkin, 2005,
The impetus for this is explained in a note from Rupert Loydell,
I am pleased to have a poem in this collection and it is as entertaining for a fellow writer as it will be for an objective reader to encounter the range of responses to that singular source. Apart from the mention of spoon/s nine times [we’ll call it ten now, rounding it up] the ekphrastic poems see and describe with considerable differences.
Naturally, poets writing about The Poet reflect on the nature of this appellation. Paul Sutton leads off the collection with The Failed Poet, the persona whose wife, like departed readers, ruminates
‘…….God, is he still working?
No one reads his stuff, or cares.’
But the poet has his integrity because he can still assert his intentions as a writer, still trying,
‘…..If you look
hard unto any object, the atoms
In Carrie Etter’s She, the literal ‘They are fierce spoons they are nailed into her head’ is absorbed by the other reality ‘Inchoate is she, is the long walk home’, gender not an issue but the one certain variable.
For Peter Finch in Poetry is Over, dissolution within the artistic urge to continue trying is referenced through the analogy of musicians who revamp their oeuvre, ‘musicians from the seventies’ like Joni Mitchell and Van Morrison ‘adding orchestras taking away the edges smoothing on mature value’ but ‘it never makes enough in the welter of expanded vision’.
Martin Stannard frames his response in framed deconstructions of the apparent shallowness and/or loss of identity, a recognition made empty in the artifice of its self-referencing, ‘”It’s not like you’re, like, in the real world, is it?”’
Physical features feature throughout all the poems, either as the visual metaphors in the stimulus image or what they represent, as in H.L. Hix’s title poem Nerve Damage where they are comically drawn, as of ears ‘Bigger by a barefoot crick crossin. People notice. That one ear’s biggerin Maude’s back yard’ before we are reminded that how we look is irrelevant in the bigger picture, ‘There’s a poetry to this footage of refugees receiving instruction in the language of border patrol.’
Ian Seed opens the door to uncertainty in another one of his wonderful vignettes, here about students, the visiting poet from India, a dead father, and the back door that needs its lock repaired.
For Alan Halsey the conclusion is ‘I didn’t believe a word of it’ when another narrative interprets our poet’s life, and David H.W. Grubb would have us believe his name was Spike,
‘The last time I spoke to Spike
he had his head down a long poem’
but that is another unique unravelling, a bit like Spike when composing
‘digging up unique words
as luminescent as BONGO.’
It is also The Luminous Poet for A.C. Evans where
‘…..crazy showgirls just blew my mind
Took me apart in a smash and grab, hit and run
I tell you, officer, there’s something weird in that junkyard’
or as the poet tells us himself in Rupert M. Loydell’s Rictus,
‘All my poems now are
dense scribbles between
morning and shadow.’
This damage done to the notion we can fix and agree on what we all receive and then describe, the nervous energy of the poets’ panoply is a lively buzz.
Can be purchased here:
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