Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Magma, Fleck and More Shadow than Bird

I had been thinking of creating a new blog, a new start and all that, given that this one has been semi-abandoned in recent months, but that would make no sense. Instead, I’m going to re-launch Surroundings today and try to be more organised.

I have had a fair bit on in recent months, which has made it almost impossible to blog. Until the end of April, I was tied-up with the co-editing (with Kona Macphee) of Magma 53, which is now hurtling towards production and will indeed be published on 28th May with a launch on 4th June at the Troubadour in London. I can’t give anything away yet, but I do feel really pleased with the issue.

I was also revising poems for a new pamphlet, Fleck and the Bank, which has just been published. I still haven’t seen a physical copy but a package should arrive today. I know what’s going to happen. I have various things on today, to do with work, which will take me out the house for a fair bit of the day. The package will arrive when I’m out and I’ll have to collect it from the sorting office in the Gyle Industrial Estate, an area full of factories and warehouses. I’ll wander about for ages in search of the sorting office amid dozens of near-identical buildings and, by the time I find it, it will have closed down for the day. Anyway, it's just over five pounds from the Salt website, where you can also download a free pdf sampler.

Finally, just a quick mention of a book I’m reading at the moment. I spent April reading Rilke, WS Merwin and Durs Grunbein and thought nothing would top that combination this year. However, Nuar Alsadir’s first collection, More Shadow than Bird, is outstanding. I will try to say more in a future post, but for now I’ll just say the title is well chosen. The poems deal not so much with flickers of light illuminating the strange or obscured, as with shadows flitting briefly and quickly across a scene – often the shadows of the apparently unknowable self (if the ‘self’ is an iceberg, this collection focuses on the vast section below the surface). That’s not a prescription for vague writing – every word seems precise and vital – but for a persuasive and musical evocation of what usually remains unthought or entirely out-of-sight.

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