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Friday, 19 March 2010

Featured Poet: Abi Curtis

Eyewear has been featuring poets here since 2005, almost since the blog began. The poets eligible for inclusion have been, well - everyone. I've featured famous poets, lesser-known, emerging, young, old, new, and, of course, mid-career, poets. Poets working across a broad digital age spectrum (fusion/hybrid?) - from performance, to lyric, to more experimental. Poets from all over the world, from many different countries. The only thing was that they had to work with the English-language poetic tradition - which, as an internationalist - I believe constitutes one greater poetic nation - and be alive and resident on planet Earth. Perhaps that's why my second anthology was called Poetry Nation.

I am very pleased to welcome Dr. Abi Curtis as the 160th poet to be featured at the site. Curtis (pictured above) lectures in creative writing at The University of Sussex, Brighton, where she also completed a PhD on psychoanalysis and literature in 2007. She writes poetry and fiction. She received an Eric Gregory Award in 2004, and was one of the winners of Salt's Crashaw Prize in 2008. Her recent book, Unexpected Weather, is currently being read for future review here at Eyewear. The very fine poem below is from that book.

Tyndall’s Flame

I am a stranger in town gathering with a crowd
in the lecture hall. The benches give and creak
like bones. A smell of smoke, cologne and clay.

He takes the stage with a Bunsen-burner
and draws from it the tallest flame, brimming
blue, flecked with greens and browns

like the inside of an eye. I watch.
A flame is a tulip; it bows and whispers.
Tyndall speaks to us and lets us wonder.

He’ll show the nervousness of flames:
Their sensitivities and starts and foibles.
A flame is a person; a friend, your family.

A flame is a lip. A bud. My nightmare.
I watch. A woman in the front row knits.
Fire catches in her irises like knots.

He’ll demonstrate enigmatic resonance
to each of us. To all. The blaze roars
like a human enraged.

Tyndall sings his fire-tune.
It prisms, flourishes and turns.
It looks to be in pain and trying

to escape. I don’t feel well or right.
A flame is a picture. An orange-rind.
A flame is a quick thought of red.

A flame is a tear of lace. The cliff-edge.
He laughs, face altered as a broken egg.
Fire pulses in exact time to the beat of a watch.

Each click and shift from the audience
hurts my skin. Something runs over my body
as if a man could turn tuning-fork.

I zing.
I quiver.
Rare as a letter.
Sore as flame over droplets of water.

Don’t make a sound.

But he leaves the room and whistles
from a closed apartment three stories away
and the flame twists on its plinth.

A flame is deep pain in the faces around me.
I shall jig over the rooftops until I’m out of air.
To think: I only came in here to escape the rain.

poem by Abi Curtis
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