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Friday, 27 March 2009

Poem by Giles Goodland

I am very pleased to welcome the poet Giles Goodland (pictured) this Friday.

Goodland's work, in some ways, ravels up a few of the themes of the last few weeks' posts - particularly, the Forties, the environment, and capitalism. He is a London-based poet who has had several books published over the last two decades. Littoral (1996, Oversteps) is a walking prose and poetry notebook from the South West Coast. A Spy in the House of Years (Leviathan, 2001) is a sequence of 100 sonnets, one for each year of the Twentieth Century, each sonnet collaged from 14 quotations originating in a particular year (parts were recently anthologised in The Reality Street Book of Sonnets, ed. Jeff Hilson). Capital (Salt, 2006) collages uses of the concept of Capital from ephemeral publications over the last twenty years. What the Things Sang is due this year from Shearsman.

I've known Goodland for several years now, and read with him on a few occasions - once memorably in Berlin. I've been glad to include his work on an Oxfam poetry CD, and at Nthposition. I believe he is one of the best British poets of his time. I also think he's almost unique in being engaged with the lyric, and the prose poem, at equal levels of stylish achievement. Goodland's father was an imporant poetry editor of Seven Magazine, in the 30s-40s, with Nicholas Moore, and he himself went on to get a PhD from Oxford studying that wartime period. He currently works for the OED.


we are in a sea of sound that laps us & we swim in music
we swim in music & each song has its glossary
each song has its glossary & all flags are the same
all flags are the same & nothing makes anything
nothing makes anything & poetry makes poets happen
poetry makes poets happen & lines float down
lines float down & time sometimes deepens
time sometimes deepens & the river runs more slowly
the river runs more slowly & the car hits morning with a snarl
the car hits morning with a snarl & the streetlights turn off in front
the streetlights turn off in front & the sky fills with language
the sky fills with language & each tree is a wholly owned subsidiary
each tree is a wholly owned subsidiary & you are travelling through light
you are travelling through night & silence is a balance of opposed forces
silence is a balance of opposed forces & I’m an impression the air gets
I’m an impression the air gets & a house swallows me sometimes
a house swallows me sometimes & each human shoulders the next
each human shoulders the next & we come to the gate marked world
we come to the gate marked world & you lose your weight in skin-cells
you lose your weight in skin-cells & you are mostly dust
you are mostly dust & you surf channels
you surf channels & mountains pull inside
mountains pull inside & you are contained by the air outside
you are contained by the air outside & night is engraved in the eyelid
night is engraved in the eyelid & days are painted on the eyeball
days are painted on the eyeball & there should be a chronology of space
there should be a chronology of space & there must be a map of time
there must be a map of time & dreams require no proof
dreams require no proof & a person operates as a universe
a person operates as a universe & the space between thought is infinite
the space between thought is infinite & the shape of shapes is indeterminate
the shape of shapes is indeterminate & space has no enemies
space has no enemies & lines of force never intersect
lines of force never intersect & what cannot be repeated is true
what cannot be repeated is true & you’re momentarily aware of a secret task
you’re momentarily aware of a secret task & the dead are happy in their silence
the dead are happy in their silence & there is illumination in decay
there is illumination in decay & seconds end with a whoom of blood
seconds end with a whoom of blood & I move as much as the sea
I move as much as the sea & what I say solidifies
what I say solidifies & you feel time's heat on the hand
you feel time's heat on the hand & there’s a sound for each feeling
there’s a sound for each feeling & these sounds are not words
these sounds are not words & to sigh is to sing in snake language
to sigh is to sing in snake language & to sniff is to whistle in dog-talk
to sniff is to whistle in dog-talk & silence dissolves into earth
silence dissolves into earth & clouds are the thoughts of hills
clouds are the thoughts of hills & you are earthed to peaches on their trees
you are earthed to peaches on their trees & one bite roots you to stone
one bite roots you to stone & so many doors to burst through
so many doors to burst through & when I push the last sleep spills from my eyes
when I push the last sleep spills from my eyes & nothing makes anything.

poem by Giles Goodland; from his forthcoming collection What The Things Sang
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