mudpath

companion stones

goodwin-stoop

(White Edge, Mark Goodwin)

A few weeks ago, at Long Poem Magazine’s ten-year anniversary event, I had the pleasure of hearing Mark Goodwin (and son) read his poem ‘Economy @ Birling Gap, East Sussex, August 2015’, a poem which begins with a timely admonishment from David Graeber –

@ this point we can finally see what’s really at stake

Then two weeks later I was in Derbyshire for a Waymaking event in Buxton as well as a few days hillwalking, and quite by chance came across this excellent stoop stone on White Edge. I later discovered it is Mark Goodwin’s contribution to a lovely, twelve-stone collaboration between local poets and artists. In full, it reads –

for this ride | come out | ward hear | heath | er on air | step | on g | rounded c | loud let | soul rotate | as hori | zon | walk sky | wards

The fractured wrapping of the poem around its two, off-set blocks really echoes the way Mark honours the line (and mid-word) breaks of his work when reading, and which had been such a mesmerising part of his performance at the Long Poem event. The stones were all carved by sculptor Amanda Wray. You can’t tell from my picture, but this one has a small, shallow pool on its surface for reflecting back the sky. Fittingly, Mark describes the moors as vertigo-grounds where horizons swirl, and indeed the physical act of circling the stone to read the text has the disorienting effect of throwing you into the sky. As he says in his commentary –

we will have to step with | and not against our world’s | vertigo-grounds as we hold | on to sky

The project website has more information, including commentaries on the individual pieces, as well as a map of where to find them –

http://www.companionstones.org.uk/home/home1.htm

https://markgoodwinsteps.wordpress.com/

‘hex it through glory / total and utter glory’

spells2

(WITCH, complete with early-bird feathers & crystal)

It’s here. And it’s glorious.

I was deeply excited to receive my copy of WITCH (Penned in the Margins) yesterday. I’ve been waiting for it (pretty impatiently) ever since seeing Rebecca Tamás perform ‘penis hex’ in 2017, waiting with that slight nervousness that attends high hopes. Will it be as good as one imagines? I needn’t have worried, this collection is insanely good. It arcs terrifyingly, exhilaratingly off the page, demanding of the reader a complete, spirited, whole-body response. It is also by turns: profoundly political; arcane & expansive; sensual; disturbing; hilarious and dark.

After my initial leaping about in it, I started digging around in boxes, trying to find my mum’s old dissertation, which she wrote when studying for an MA in Witchcraft. In it, she focused on Relationships with the Familiar, with reference to Elizabeth Sawyer and her black dog Tom. Sawyer was hanged in 1621 and was the inspiration for The Witch of Edmonton. While my mum was researching (and as I had a smattering of Latin) she had me down the Met’ Police Archives searching for the court records of Sawyer’s trial: a weird, white-gloved exercise in dust and indecipherable medieval Latin. I wasn’t much help.

Anyway, in the 1600s the proofs required by witch trials largely boiled down to identification of two things: a familiar, and the teat by which the familiar was fed, on the witch’s body. Leafing through it again now, I am reminded of just how weaponised the female body was in the context of the (literal) witch hunt. The disgust and physical misogyny that found ‘the devil’ in the tags and tears of a woman’s body speak now to the modern, homogenising scalpel (both actual, metaphorical and virtual), that would still stigmatise the ‘unusual’ or ‘atypical’, when in fact all our bodies are multifarious and unique. WITCH offers a powerful countering; reconnects mind with body, and both with utterance. Because after all, this book is about spelling it out.

In Tamás’s recent White Review essay ‘Songs of Hecate’, she asks – how to find the magic of the body? How to bring it into language? Well, this collection is an object lesson in exactly that. It is not about witchcraft, it is witchcraft. Visceral, alive and embodied, it crackles with intent. In ‘Songs of Hecate’ she goes on to say – A witch’s desire changes what is thinkable within the body – much like poetry might do. Much like THIS poetry might, or indeed does do. WITCH shifts your thinking. Moves poetry on. Stuffs it in an eggshell and compels it, sailing through the air.

It is a terrifying magic. You know you need it.

http://www.pennedinthemargins.co.uk/index.php/2019/01/witch/

‘the first simultaneous book’

ribbon

ribbon2

(“a sad poem printed on sunlight” – Cendrars)

Sections of the ‘premier livre simultané’ – a vertical concertina combining Blaise Cendrars’s long poem La Prose du Transsibérien et de la petite Jehanne de France with Sonia Delaunay’s abstract frieze-work. The work dates from 1913 and is currently on display at the ‘Cubism 1907-1917’ exhibition at the Centre Pompidou, Paris.

http://www.bl.uk/onlinegallery/features/breakingtherules/images/btrtranssiberien.pdf

Oeil Nez La bouche

Pablo:Guillaume

(Guillaume Apollinaire – Picasso, 1908)

‘Recconais-toi / Cette adorable personne, c’est toi / Sous le grand chapeau canotier / Oeil / Nez / La bouche / Voici l’ovale de la figure / Ton cou exquis / Voici enfin l’imparfaite image de ton buste adoré / Vu comme à travers un nuage / Un peu plus bas, c’est ton coeur qui bat’

 – Apollinaire, February 1915

‘Or failing that, invent’ – Monique Wittig

Les-G-JH-cover

Originally published in 1969 by Les Éditions de Minuit, I first encountered Monique Wittig’s Les Guérillères when my dad brought home a copy of David Le Vay’s Picador translation (along with a copy of Germaine Greer’s The Female Eunuch). Both books were decorated with the now iconic artwork of John Holmes, whose surrealist covers made quite the impression! But it was Wittig’s challenge to phallogocentric language that made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. I didn’t have the language to describe it back then, but could feel the furniture being entirely rearranged in my teenage brain.

Returning to it a few years ago, I became interested in pushing the pronouns of the translation a little further, as well as exploring Wittig’s position re white space and margins, and so began a slow and as yet unfinished translation of the book, which I dip in and out of whenever I have a quiet period in my own work.

I am delighted to say that Blackbox Manifold have published some sections of this ongoing translation in their Winter issue. The pieces included are the two lineated poems that open and close Wittig’s novel, and three short extracts from the main body of the text, the closest description of which would be ‘epic prose poetry’. The circle is an important motif of the novel, both graphically and thematically, and I have tried to convey that. For any ‘English-only’ speakers interested in reading the whole thing, I recommend Le Vay’s translation, some of the phrasing of which would be difficult to improve on.

I also recommend the whole of Blackbox Manifold Issue 21, which is filled with fantastic work – http://www.manifold.group.shef.ac.uk/

More about Monique Wittig and her work – http://www.moniquewittig.com/

‘A Woman, Island, Country, Tree, and City, Feminine we see’

KRLPcover

KRLPpage49

(After Mary Beard – my battered copy of Kennedy’s Revised Latin Primer. As per MB, also nicked from school. Pronouns page appropriately graffitied…thirty five years ago now!)

Really enjoyed Beard’s piece on Radio 4 today. ‘Amo Amas Amusical’ focuses on Benjamin  Kennedy’s daughters, Marion and Julia, who made their father’s original ‘incomprehensible’ primer THE go-to guide to Latin grammar. Her brief history of the lives of the Kennedy sisters, coupled with her account of opposition to women’s education in the late-19th/early-20th century is cut with Emily Levy’s delightfully bonkers choral renditions of sections of the book and anti-clever women sentiments of the day, sung by a Chorus of Trolls. Brilliantly playful, it is perfect New Year’s Day listening – https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m0001tb2

Screen picture of Mary Beard credit – Amanda Benson https://www.telegraph.co.uk/radio/what-to-listen-to/hold-amo-mary-beard-revised-latin-primer-revelation-inspired/

 

Jardins de Salvador Espriu

furrow

Frederic Amat’s monument, SOLC (furrow) to Catalan poet Salvador Espriu (1913–1985) – the monument is a negative of the neighbouring obelisk, El llapis (the pencil) that originally celebrated Francesc Pi i Margall.

video of construction: http://www.fredericamat.net/en/projects/solc