Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Michael Haslam, The Quiet Works.
Oystercatcher Press. £4.00 A5 16pp. ISBN: 978-1-905885-21-3.

This pamphlet, which I've just bought, comes highly recommended. Haslam is one of our elder-statesman, a contemporary of Peter Riley and Lee Harwood. His work is like neither of theirs, consisting of highly-wrought lyrical utterances, though, like Riley, he investigates landscape as a palimpset, a layered record of social history, and the individual's place within it. "The Quiet Works" is "the latest, or last, of a Work, under the general title 'Continuale Song' in print (2009) in the following books: Mid Life (Shearsman 2007), The Music Laid Her Songs in Language (Arc 2001), A Sinner Saved by Grace (Arc 2005), and A Cure for Woodness (Arc 2009). Details of these publications may be found here.


The poetry works best when read out loud, which brings out its alliterative music:

Disquieted poor lover stumbles in defeat
as yelping plover tips the tumbril, tumbles
from a troubled youth his mill-shed fumbles
through to elders' umbral gloom and grumbles
where waters meet in derelicted darkness,
at a confluence of brooks: the spill of self disgorged
where goit-wall crumbles into streaming turmoil.

Great stuff from Peter Hughes' Oystercatcher Press; it was great to see it pick up the Michael Marks Publishers'Award (for outstanding UK publisher of poetry in pamphlet form).

6 comments:

The Editors said...

Haslam's the don, isn't he? I think he should be compulsory in all schools across the country. His Ostercatcher book's on my reading list, though I didn't know about the new Arc collection. That's brightened my day, that has.

Simon Turner, Gists and Piths

Matt Merritt said...

That makes four or five Oystercatcher titles on my 'to buy' list now - time to send a cheque, I think.

Tom Chivers said...

I've enjoyed the two I've got - by Alastair Noon and Emily Critchley

AidanSemmens said...

Mike Haslam is certainly one of the good guys - as poet, editor, bloke. To have him described as elder statesman makes me feel old, though ;-)

John B-R said...

Hey, Alan, if possible, can you order up some must-have chapbooks for me which I'll gladly pay you for (inclshipping handling all that stuff) when we meet up in London? Thx.

Alan Baker said...

Ah, imagine a world where someone like Michael Haslam was on the school curriculum!

If someone wanted to get a snapshot of current UK innovative poetry - in all its variety - they could simply buy the complete set of Oystercatcher pamphlets.

Aidan - I know the feeling...