John HALL
Keepsache
96 pages, publication date: 1st November 2013.
Regular edition: £13.50.

Limited edition, lettered A-Z with extra
signed visual poem by John Hall: £20.00.

"Maybe these thoughts sound too lyrical for an age mortgaged into harshness and massive opportunism; too warm for the history of chill times. But your gift is so constant in lyrical delicacy that its vulnerability to chill is an exact index of damage and of how far a music will reach. Being a poet does not always result in writing poems, and your period of eloquent silence has been for me always no less than a poet's tacit interval, for however long its duration."

(J.H. Prynne, responding to else here in a letter, 18th November 1999)

In 1999, 18 years after his previous collection of poems, when his published poetry had become almost impossible to find and when the recent writing of his to catch attention was an essay on not writing, John Hall worked with editor and publisher Nicholas Johnson on making a book that would bring some of the earlier work back into view and make available unpublished and uncollected texts, including some that were then very recent. That book was called else here. In the 13 years since then John has continued to write both for page and for visual encounter on the walls of homes and galleries, has collaborated with others (here, in one project with Lee Harwood and in another with Peter Hughes), has contributed many essays to journals across the domains of performance and of poetry, and has participated in celebrations and memorials for poets of his own and an earlier generation.

Now, in 2012, etruscan books is to publish a companion selection to else here, one that revisits the earlier collections without repeating a single poem, and that draws fully on subsequent publications and unpublished poetry.

... a keepsake: a metonymic souvenir for a missing whole, that can itself be something of a whole. But what can this whole be? An assemblage of syllables missing both the full silence of not writing and the fullness of a copious speech that always expects a reply? An attempted reconciliation with all those missing others whose voices and writings feed into the unquenchable source of a spectral language, always full of what it misses? A call and recall, as though this keepsake, these selected keepsakes, keep calling out and calling back, missing in the necessary non-reply all the faces that speak and spoke, the bodies with skin, exceeding language: companions, strangers?

* * *

"'Talking to yourself' might be thought to be solipsistic, but 'crossing through loneliness to the other side' and returning 'with ink in your mouth' puts the technology of printing into the existential desiring machine of the mouth, ready to perform language or non-language from the heart of human unfinish."

(Robert Sheppard, in 'John Hall: The Price of Houses the Cost of Food––The Poetics of Not Writing',
in When Bad Times Made for Good Poetry, Exeter: Shearsman, 2011)

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