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Monday, May 04, 2009

Nostalgie de la Boue, Slight Return

An extract from an essay of mine in this new poetry anthology:

For anyone else, the phrase nostalgie de la boue would mean slumming it; for me, it has an almost aspirational air. I exult in, I yearn to fathom the depths, the textures, the tang of these estuarine leavings. Heaney has his bogs, yielding up their hoards of Irish elks and Iron Age human sacrifice victims, and I have my mudbanks, rich in deposits of Asda shopping trolleys and BMXs. Above me hulks the British Extracting Company building, a disused mill. If I were Monet, this colossus on the banks of the Hull would be my Rouen cathedral. I never pass it without contemplating, awe-struck, its huge, redundant majesty. Fossicking around on Google, curious to see what its disused interior might look like, I happened on an account of someone who’d braved the security fence, the wreckage-strewn interior and what sounded like a hair-raising ladder-climb to reach its roof, from which he then photographed the rising sun, suggesting he’d done all of the above in the dark. I salute him for it.


Searching for online evidence again of the innards of the British Extracting Company Building I found this fascinating site, on which enterprising psychogeographers do their bit to reclaim the closed and forbidden landscapes where the concept of place goes to die, in placeless, CCTV-infested, barcoded Britain. Some stunning photographs, I must say.


Totalfeckineejit said...

I have always held a fascination for urban and rural decay,it is indeed a terrible beauty.Good to know that there are other lunatics doing similar.Poteegraf of the Silo (complete with hairy nonsensical outside staircase) my fave.

Anonymous said...

Heaney can have his Iron Age bogs.

See the banks of Alph, the sacred river, where huts papered in Coca-Cola adverts and plastic bags abound. See the depths, where corroding bicycle frames lay half buried and appear through the murky water to the observer like macabre spiders of human invention.
See the once-virgin sky, littered with blimps, aeroplane tracks and flashing beams of light that burn up from the landscape like scalpels, intent on cutting away the stars.
See every face, every body, every corpse and every grave enveloped in the trappings of solipsistic human culture.
When the mind's eye draws back from this in horror, there is a web. Entangling and concealing ourselves in language, construction and consumerism; bargain flights, the Starbucks skinny decaf mocha-lattes and flashy sunglasses. The self-interested poem that poses with hands raised in existential anguish towards the heavens, but with its eyes narrowed and slanted towards the audience.
Fall back, to the veins of tar and white lines that thread this land and you'll see that Heaney is a fool to cower in the past. Because there's aesthetic charm in every thing to the detached observer and a proper poet. Be it a drop of rain hanging breathlessly on an awning, or a bullet bursting the skin in a flower of scarlet pain, for whatever reason. Or even the glimmer of the sun's rising rays in a pool of tramp's piss.

A terrible beauty has been born.
Let's ask Heaney to set his next work in a disused warehouse, or a tip.

Anonymous said...

I was both fascinated and upset to find that before it was knocked down to build St Stephens shopping arcade the ABC cinema had remained fully furnished but abandoned for twenty years; there were still posters and magazines in the foyer advertising the Timothy Dalton film Licence to Kill.

The other day I saw a discarded can of Carling Black label that must have been decades old. Thrilling.

Anonymous said...

Oh hear ye fools in verbal trade
what is shoddy and not well made in a country where knaves teach less and less literature each day

where ignorance reigns supreme
and fewer people read, but steal
that which is written, to write ten and more flarf poems at one sitting -

ask yourself, not what s/he can give you, what gift of the mind
invisibly got gets you to the top,

but what you can give the mahn
who give you blud clop 'n git-stab

up shady back lanes where scangers
drink, sniff and shoot from the lip
vile accursed oaths to a pissing
down sky. Bent over double, scumbag

dort bords who'll jigger in real
live evil warm and nice, backwards mirror every thought you ever had

and turn the feet of mother earth
urgent as Bernard Manning's diet-
plan needs to be made into a DVD for a generation reared on Kyle
Jez's Life With The Lie Detectors.

revolutionary as a Bosch CBS 520
interrogating oranges in Cuba
at full torque, ask yourself what's

surreal as a lemon in outer space,
ducks quack in a vacuum and Welsh
tragedy played straight on the face of a red dwarf in the Virgo
Supercluster - buster.

Funny as the drop facing A sad man
in Iraq, live on TV, go see that
report back and howl, who's daddy
now, bardzo smacked face like ass
firm, fondley, full of frank fair
flesh - alliterate and make lurve

to your own cool breeze, soul who
flits in infinite bits - osscilate
as an impulse of energy in Spank
Mag Three: The Final Concerto:
Cones and Cackhanded Camera Action.

s/he could drip on auto drone,
ripped tine-velvet on a moor-stag
chained to a thornbush the dawn
before its wedding to a doe ray
you twilight of unmeasured art
the sidhe move, but will cease
for the good of world peace

dusk hand-stretched in disarray
standing at a roadside banquet
half-veiled, harmlessly commanding
place, lining paintings of the

time on faded stone lips
by majestic airy shade, running
to the edge of a land
imagination fixed within, breathing love’s density

an Achill hawk, butterfly
and bumblebee recording
freely life’s plot of bone behind
a mother-muse eye composing
the language of Mesonemye and Ogma
chatting in a church, the celestial director Lugh who’ll
speak the counsel,

padre of creation Mananan registering anew in the earthly
verbal charge, controlling our horizon.


a mystery admirer of MM, shhh, magi born moss, flit anonymous, there can be only nine at once circling the well of Seigas, who'll baggsie being brehon awarding prizes.