Recently, I've been reading quite a lot of poetry. I go through phases at different points in my life, when suddenly the way things are described in poems seems to be the truest perception of the feeling, or situation, of that time. Now is one of those times.
A while ago I bought a little contemporary poetry/illustration quarterly from some swanky artsy bookshop in London. It is, kinda provocatively, called Popshot Magazine. (Try Googling this without a family filter). It's a slight publication to which poets submit their work. The accepted pieces are then interpreted by a team of illustrators. The images appear along with the poem. For me, the best part is that each poem has an explanation of what inspired it. I think we are taught, possibly tacitly, possibly through fear of appearing ignorant, that we should either implicitly understand a work of art, or be perfectly ok with not understanding it, and perhaps just appreciating its aesthetic. I think this is pretty snobbish. Poems are a personal way of understanding often a very personal situation. How can a group of strangers be expected to understand without a back story? This is why poetry is regarded as inaccessible, I think. Because there is too much silent expectation. However, Popshot breaks the mould (ahem).
Some of the varying illustrations inside The Power Issue.
The illustration below is by illustrator Goni Montes, and accompanies my current favourite poem from the issue, The Storm Line by Ben Parker.
The Storm Line
by Ben Parker
Even before you call it broods behind the earpiece:
a fidget of pressure shifting under the static.
Punch the code into the grubby beige of the handset
and the sudden turbulence will threaten to crush
the phone in your hand. Speak and the storm will answer.
Stay silent and for as long as you are on the line
Lighting will sear the sky with the din of the bolt,
the rip of the unleashed charge.
And even if you don't know the number
listen to the hum of the dial-tone as you call a friend,
to the gap between the urgent chimes as your phone
jolts awake on an afternoon when no-one knows you're in:
you will hear the thunder's distant argument, rain
muttering dissent. The wind raising its voice.
The Storm Line arose from the thought that technology can bring us closer to powerful natural forces, whilst simultaneously creating a distance from them.
I cannot find Ben on the internet. Ben, if you're reading this: make yourself more visible - I'd love to read more of your stuff. It's awesome.
As ever, I am reminded of this song:
And HERE'S a kinda shitty camera phone captured version of a lovely live rendition.
Technology has a funny way with us.