Despite its understated title "Eight Poets,"
is a rich tapestry of writing and performance out of
the rural reaches of the UK. I say the word rural guardedly
- anyone anticipating a 'throwback' to 19th century
versifying or some unfortunate dialect tomfoolery may
put their fears aside. This group of Cornwall-based
writers offers a satisfying and varied compilation of
contemporary poems, demonstrating the rare quality of
aesthetic discernment and earth-rootedeness possible
in the best of British poetry.
These are footfalls of ebullient spirit, resonant with
metaphysical moment and a majestically tender gravity.
The CD is nicely produced and ably underscored with
the improvisational talents of musician Tony Lamb. Lamb,
who produced the CD, nimbly jumps from such standard
instruments as guitar and bass to bass clarinet, thumb-piano
and Puerto Rican Cuatro across the democratically organized
sixteen cuts on the CD. In fact the studio production
is quite clean and attractive, and Lamb has a splendid
range of voices.
In no case does the musical accompaniment fail. Paul
Newman's 'Titanic' is sinuously underscored with a guitar-riff
reminiscent of Apocalypse Now. An oddly urbane Penzance
welcomes lost souls in a fast paced "Holy City,"
by Loic Rich, bubbling with a nervous urban musical
score. Pam Smith-Rawnsley's stark ravaging account or
mental-brutalization in "Rape" is given greater
power by contrast, as Lamb sets the stark words against
a gossamer music-box backdrop that reminds us of the
curtain of innocence which is all too often torn by
experience from the eyes of a human soul. And the CD
comes to a jazzy and angular conclusion in Derrek Hines'
There is much to like in the CD. Hines goes for the
psycho-spiritual jugular in Gilgamesh, Bill Mycock offers
up a country-style elegy to his father's workboots,
and Liz Rowett asks us to "look up beyond windsloped
hawthorne and the squat of hill farms."
Zeeba Ansari's two poems are quite riveting, the first
in particular, 'Sunrise, Carn Brea,' has a mesmerizing
sleepy quality to it, punishingly infused with a black
and blue morning-after bruised-lip feel. The arrangement
has a rich bluesiness about it, and the quietude of
the repeated 'beaten country' at the beginning and the
end makes possible as afterglow the rest of the poem,
which is richly swollen and sweetly painful -- 'hauling
red through ponds of air, ' 'night which would eat the
sand blind,' 'honey rose and loaves are making themselves,'
'the womb line of the night's horizon.' and the slight
abstraction of 'courtesies of light...from the throat
of the sun, waiting behind to pitch up colossal' through
the wombline of night's horizon nude from the making
and breathing, breathing into this beaten country.'
And both of Victoria Field's poems are stunningly effective.
There is a salacious encounter with the erudite and
the erotic world of Mother Russia in 'Sergei Kuriokhin
Wasn't My Lover,' but even better is "Petition."
This poem has a delightful Santana guitar riff to open
up, laid on top of a rolling kalimba-like cross-stitch,
that I could listen to again and again. As for the poem
itself, it is an altogether a deceptively simple and
prayerfully supple thing, delivered amply with a dignified,
impassioned restraint, both urgent and classic. 'these
are saints without armies drifting in on leaves or shells
or stones, their voices soft and strong and long as
wind, hearts smooth and white as bone.' Lovely! I also
liked how Field urged the wind to 'toll the bell for
the limbless child'. It is an urging to all who hear
this piece to brush aside the sand and shallow waters
to discover the half forgotten face of the miraculous
These are works released, as Mycock puts it, from a
"thicket of dreams," rearing their heads "above
crag, testing air wavering like a licorice gun against