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I live in Bedford, England. Having retired from teaching; I am now a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Threshold Concepts in the context of A-level Physics. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. I have also recently become a keen playgoer to London Fringe Theatre. I enjoy mostly classics and I read the playscripts and add those to the blog. I am a member of Bedford Writers' Circle. See their website here: http://bedford-writers.co.uk/ Follow me on twitter: @daja57

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

"Windmills in Flames" by Tom Raworth

Raworth is a modernist poet. He uses few capitals, occasional punctuation, and very little discernible structure although sometimes he seems to play games. For example, in this volume:
  • Systems Disruption has two stanzas. Each stanza contain six lines; each line contains between four and six words. The words in each stanza are identical. Just in a different order. Both seem randomly arranged. 
  • Issue them gasmasks has two stanzas. Each stanza has four lines, The first three lines have three ‘words’ each followed by a fourth line of two words. Each ‘word’ consists of a part of an English word. These usually derive from Latin. Perhaps the game is that you can make other words and therefore construct a variety of poems.
  • Seesound, which is I suppose a play of the word seesaw, contains within it some ‘matched’ lines, sometimes as couplets and at other times distributed. Thus:
    • means of impression/ means of expression
    • no room for present ... no room for poignant/ no room for pregnant
    • added value water/ added while water/ added whole water
  • Never Odd Nor Even consists of six stanzas each of seven lines. The first four stanzas are a sort of ‘theme with variations’: five of the lines from the preceding stanza are repeated with two new lines added. Sometimes the line added came from a previous stanza. Each line is repeated twice over the four stanzas. The final two stanzas have the same seven lines in each but in a different order. None of these lines appeared previously.What is he playing at? Campanology? 
The volume contains what are presumably modernist jokes:
  • i am lonely for my replaced cells is a poem that consists of the single line: "1945, 1952, 1959, 1966, 1973, 1980, 1987" and presumably alludes to the belief that every cell in one’s body is replaced every seven years. 
  • 26 is a poem about dementia. I think. Right justified, almost every line ends in the middle of a word, as if the thought has suddenly stopped.
  • Language Construction consists of a big square blacktype letter A superimposed on a letter E and a letter N and a letter G. I think. It is dedicated to Doug Lang so it might be an L instead of an E to form an anagram but it looks like an E to me

But Envoi is the poem that sneers at people like me who remember rhythm and rhyme. It starts "I could go on like this all day/ Ti-tum ti-tum and doodly-ay". I suppose Raworth is saying that he can write conventional poetry but chooses not to; he has a higher calling. The trouble is that this is a pretty poor poem in conventional terms so the point is lost.

A number of poems refer to 'pleasant butter' but this makes no more sense than anything else.

I really don't understand much of this. He sounds angry.

Some lines did resonate with me:
  • something not quite filters through eyelashes
  • where do they go/ those things we know we know
Mostly, however, I just felt confused and stupid.

May 2018; 88 pages

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