And Stood On Red Earth All A Round
A compendium of texts, including Pelt, Haul Song, The Lard Book, Pine Apple and Show.
192 pp, including a DVD of The Lard Book (filmed by Brian Catling).£14.95 including p&p(special introductory price until 31st January 2014)
Haul Song seems to belong to, to spring from and to cause the hearer to grapple with a very vital earth, the force and beauty barely singed by humans' passing. Its relationship to the human is that of an overpowering call of the young poet to which comes the rapturous response of his song. It is participation and celebration and is a forging of a language suited to the power of the context. This lively work demands to be read aloud. The poet's close relationship with the land of North Devon has brought to the work the dips and flights and falls which are part of the forging drive of the language in momentum — incongruous or fresh juxtapositions of images, sensuous events, sensuous responses with often a permeating tenderness — aware of the fragility in human life and human love.
Nicholas Johnson's poetry is a driven music, a propelled set of contiguities across the page which disperse into shards of imagery, typography and handwritten interventions / manifestations. In such texts as Eel Earth and The Lard Book performative conditions of composure are foregrounded so that the reading is generated close to the production of the text, privy to its intermediate scrawls, erasures and signals. The results are simultaneously fragile and brutal, mustering and destructing the language as it is coaxed into its clandestine, finer threads.
The startling language and strong lyric voice allure me into a territory without a map where horizons are shifting possibilities of heart and mind. Nicholas Johnson's is an original poetic practice, evidencing integrity thoughout, which draws me into something like the Surrealists' miroir du merveilleux, even into Victor Hugo's sense of the "profound waves of the marvelous," where anyone courageous enough is caught and darkened. This poem, in which the poet is haulier, pulls with force, transports, calls up, shifts course, offers the short and long hauls of the distances in experience and of the experience of language "taking place" in order to sing them. Haul Song enacts an experience of the materiality of language, loose or freed from any transcendental resolution for the poet or the reader — emotionally exact, the language may collapse into its letters as in 'Eel Earth', to begin again. The narrative of this poem is extraordinary and radial in form, always diverging from a centre that is never still. Elements, such as "wishes screams" and "candle&qout;, serve rather like the burdens of a song. Form here is careful and alive. ... Haul Song is also a love poem and, I think, a very fine one .... [it] joins with distinction the contemporary effort to relocate the high lyric voice — to bring it down to
earth — to let the song have the notes and rhythms of our complex and marvelous lives.
He is audacious, as Haul Song shows, ("God rinses his hands and dries them on / our eyelids") and achingly tender ("This is the raystream where you give thanks / a hay hulk glinted / purple in the morning tides of air") with a high and wideranging intelligence and an ear for the natural music — fire in the hearth, a song on the air on the (made more) beautiful breath of our days.
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