Monday, August 17, 2015

Poetry Monday: Martin Langford’s ground

I’m very lucky in that I get lots of new poetry books sent to me.  I hope I never become so spoilt or jaded that I lose the excitement I get when opening up a new one - the sense of adventure it contains, the silky feel of the cover as I crack the spine open and begin exploring new words, full of promise, of new worlds - like a kind of travelogue into the human condition.  Martin Langford’s ground is a bit like that.  Though I have yet to fully digest it, the poetry takes the reader through so many shades - not just actual places, though there are plenty of those - all throughout Victoria and Tasmania and especially Sydney, with its “Layers” and lines, but through times and themes, colours and historical moments - sometimes pastoral, sometimes post-modern apocalyptic, always mingling personal perception and political impact. Many of the poems concatenate place, event and multiple interpretation into a single space--a plane of semblance that builds towards cumulative meaning (“as if there were only this moment of grassed undulations.” (“Looking East from the Castlereigh (London, 1820)”). 

I have a feeling that many of these poems will take time to open out fully for me, as is often the case with good poetry, though they’re eerily beautiful and engaging on first reading.  Here’s a very small sample:

From “The Detectives of Light”

For years at a time
they had breasted the could-dreams of shorelines -
the sky-bleed the storms -

and now they were home, the detectives of light,
shuffling, in rooms thick with interests:
boxes of artefacts, orchids;
charts dense with patronage;
moonrise distilled into ink -- (19)

1 comment:

  1. Just heard Martin read from this book tonight. Spellbinding. The poems are intricate and deeply thought as well as deeply felt. I too feel like I will need to return to each one many times, and that the effort will be repaid. Just wonderful stuff.