The real delight for me this year has been discovering Christopher James and his work – I think I was slow on the up-take but he really deserves a higher profile. I was given a copy of the poetry magazine ‘The Interpreter’s House’ in early Spring and in that particular edition was Christopher’s poem ‘The Lost Beatles’ LP’. In essence the poem is a fantastic leap into an imagined realm, yet it works so well because of the detail that roots the poem in a familiar landscape. The poem jumped out at me for being so perfectly realised; we have the title of an imagined George Harrison instrumental track through to where Yoko and Linda sing backing vocals on the record, and the poem is also evocative of vinyl and its frailties. I passed the poem onto others and quickly began to explore the rest of Christopher’s work.
The episode demonstrates precisely how a single poem can open the door on a whole house of work – I now have all five of Christopher’s publications, The Fool having been published this Winter, and each has so much to delight in. Furthermore Chris has a lively blog that is worth visiting. My delight at having two poems of my own published in ‘The Interpreter’s House’ this year was heightened because I know from my tale above of the quality that the magazine deals in.
Another poet that has rapidly come on my radar is Roy Marshall. His name was cropping up again and again in magazines, and I was pleased to find myself alongside him in ‘Prole’. However, I have to make special mention of ‘Carrying The Arrest Bleep’, Roy’s poem in the recent The Rialto (81). Powerful and concise and doing everything I want a poem to do. Another example of a poet that suddenly appears in my eye line and I need to explore. I’m waiting for the Christmas kerfuffle to fade before I order his collections, Gopagilla being the most recent. Roy also has a terrific site worth taking time to look at.
I have enjoyed Lorraine Mariner’s work for some years now (another example of seeing a poem in a magazine – ‘Thursday’ in The Rialto – and taking it further), and so it is easy for me to say that There Will Be No More Nonsense, (how’s that for a title)released during the summer, is wonderful. Lorraine has a unique voice in her work, and here she builds on the poignant and sometimes heartbreaking humour that she has written with before.
It is not news that Liz Berry had a lovely collection released this year, Black Country, and I do agree with the rave reviews it has received. Liz is a poet who is brilliant to hear read – go and see her if you can – she makes her poems sing. I saw Liz read in the summer alongside Tom Warner, whose pamphlet Yoga, is a witty and tightly constructed sequence of poems exploring the idea of public-face, and how we choose how to present an image of ourselves to others.
Back in January I really wanted Maurice Riordan’s collection The Water Stealer to win the T.S Eliot Poetry Prize (weirdly I actually found myself at the prize giving event and the readings the previous night). Unfortunately the collection did not come out on top, but asides from enjoying the poems, I also enjoy the delivery Maurice has, and the slightly “surprised to be here” feel he gives off. I have read the collection off and on throughout the year and it continues to pay-back.
And now, so soon, we are at the start of the next T.S Eliot Poetry Prize build-up; let’s see what sticks around on my bedside table throughout 2015…