Monday, March 10, 2014

Poetry Monday: Christopher Pollnitz

If you read last week's post you'll know that one of  the wonderful people joining me for the How Do Poets Survive session at this year's Newcastle Writer's Festival is Christopher Pollnitz.  Pollnitz is not only a fine poet himself (as I'll be showing you in a moment), he's a lecturer in English at Newcastle University, as well as being a noted Lawrencian.  We're not talking about Lady Chatterly's Lover here.  Pollnitz has edited one of the most critical editions of D. H. Lawrence’s Poems, and he is now working on Volume III, which features Lawrence’s draft and uncollected poetry (something I can imagine as a massive undertaking that is as much creation as curation).  He is also one of the original founders of the very well-respected Newcastle Poetry Prize.  Pollnitz' own work has been published by Rob Riel's Picaro Press which we'll be looking at next week.  Just for a taste, here is one stanza from Pollnitz' poem "Satin Bower Bird" which can be read in its entirety (along with other work) in the December issue of Mascara:

"Black Prince of the undergrowth, to me his crackle
and hiss seem off-station, but you and he have a
thing together.  As I finish each two litres
of juice, you put the lids out in the garden
and your pretty boy comes again and again carrying
awkwardly off in his beak the royal blue baubles." 

Dare I say that the influence of Lawrence's work on Pollnitz is strong - involving the same taut observation, the same anthropomorphism, the same meta-poetic twist as the awareness of human conceit and the artistic process is played against the natural world.  Here is Lawrence's "Eagle in New Mexico" which is taken from the sumptuous hardcover edition of The Cambridge Edition of the Works of D.H. Lawrence: The Poems by Christopher Pollnitz (click on the cover to be taken to the Amazon page for the book - it's quite a beautiful thing:

“Fly off, big bird with a big black back.
Fly slowly away, with a rust of fire in your tail,
Dark as you are on your dark side, eagle of heaven.

Even the sun in heaven can be curbed and hastened at last
By the life in the hearts of men.
And you, great bird, sun-starer, heavy black beak
Can be put out of office as sacrifice bringer."

It's no small compliment.

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