Apex and Edge

After mowing the lawns and
sitting outside on this warm evening
eating a boyhood inspired American sandwich,
Bob Dylan’s Like a Rolling Stone is
playing on the radio
and I think I should do this every evening,
drinking similar inexpensive white wine and
smoking loads of dope,
listening to his lyrics and
hearing and thinking I know how everything said
still applies to this life here and now.

A young hen sits on the apex of the
barbecue’s arbour, staring at me in anger and
frustration at my clapping-interruptus that drove
her young cock away, my having already done the same
when he tried it first on the apex of the larger shed,
but I don’t want them shitting there and
everywhere else as they do during the day,
too many pigeons nesting in that screening of trees
lining the all-weather pitch and floodlights
constructed all those years ago
overlooking this house
and patio.

Earlier when cutting grass around the plum tree
I realised it was only ever a metaphor in a
poem about examining English papers,
still without any fruit in this July
many years beyond planting, but the pear tree,
also used figuratively for writing about
vigilantism and urban riots [as well as
fulsome fruit] is in fact heavy with produce
once more this year.

Up in the clear blue sky there are long curled wisps
of stringy clouds, elongated arms with kindly white
ghost-fingers upturned and beckoning, urging
a following to wherever they had begun,
somewhere out of sight behind that
screening of conifers where the pigeons will
sleep tonight and fly from again tomorrow
to the apex of these edges.

‘Novel Finds’ – free pdf download

nf cover

Right click on link: Novel Finds Download

I began writing Novel Finds two and a half years ago. Though some of the found poems have been published in print and online magazines, it has not acquired a home for a full book publication. Thus I am offering it here as a free pdf download, and I hope there are those who will take and read and enjoy.

By way of explanation, and perhaps some apology [but more the former], I selected a ‘literary canon’ from which to find new poems as an identifiable and well-known source material. Novel Finds is my first such project, and the found poems are taken from a conventional collection forming the ‘British Literary’ canon. I also completed a second found poem project American Finds based on the ‘Great American Novel’ canon – again conventional and/or notional, depending on how anyone else might see, interpret and accept/reject it.

Since writing both, I have reflected on what many would view as the problematic notion of either literary canon, especially in terms of cultural and historical representation, though there are those who might argue they both just exist as identifiable constructs. I simply acknowledge potential questions about the idea of such a canon surviving, certainly for many as something intrinsically to be celebrated.

In the final paragraph I will conclude this ‘foreword’ with an account of the process I applied to the selecting of text extracts and crafting found poems from this, but I will just explain now – and without any sense of apology or justifying in the context of what I have offered above – that in working from these conventional canons I always wanted to make the ‘new’ work a contemporary reflection/interpretation. Therefore, the here and now of when the poems were written would be as much a part of the ‘new’ meaning as the often randomness of the found poetry writing process.

There is no question that Donald Trump and his presidency often had a pervasive, and indeed invasive impact on what I instinctively/compulsively ‘found’ in the original sources. But there was much else that informed, though this was never to redress or ‘correct’ or challenge the original material as it exists.  I will add that most poems are simply evocations, prompted by the original language and also, as I have already said, the random, accidental and creative nature of the found poetry writing process.

Explanation of the writing process sent to various potential publishers:

The poems submitted are cut-ups/found in the British novel canon, an arbitrary find and ‘catalogue’ to some degree, but also conventional. I have not attempted to reflect the texts’ original stories/meanings, though this did occasionally intrude. More intentionally, the design was to find new meanings, or quite simply sounds and patterns. There are two poems per text [36 novels used], the first poem from each novel’s opening page or chapter; the second from anywhere else in that novel. The selected extracts were randomised, and the new poems then found/crafted from this. In all cases I have adhered to the ‘Code of Best Practices in Fair Use of Poetry’ for found/remixed poetry.