Emptiness: Reviewed by Philip Gross

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‘The richness of this book lies not in any one person’s contribution, but in the fertile space between them – between word and image, between languages, between word and silence, between landscape and light.’

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Review: Insatiable Carrot by Judy Kendall

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Insatiable Carrot by Judy Kendall (Cinnamon Press, 2015)

For many writers, the garden, as a natural environment partly shaped by the individual’s personality, has maintained a considerable attraction. W.H Auden writes in his poem ‘Moon Landing’, ‘…give me a watered, lively garden, remote from blatherers/about the New’, asserting a preference for the tangible, domestic space in place of man’s progress into new territory. Composed in the latter part of the poet’s life, the simplicity of looking out on a stretch of tended land he could call his own represented a retreat from the accelerated intensity of the modern world. It also provided a security Auden had rarely been afforded, a sense of belonging.
Judy Kendall, in turn, employs her poetry to articulate a connection with the land, how the tactile and physical work of maintaining a garden, and the attention this requires, can be channelled into poetry, and may in fact embody the same characteristics.
The poems form observations of the continuous processes of life happening outside ourselves, from the slow progress of growing vegetables to the shriek of an owl at night. Subsequently, many examples draw from features of the Haiku form, with a focus on individual moments of action or stillness. Movement and a sense of the dynamic are key throughout, with the text moving fluidly over the page, resisting constraints or predictability. Through this, Kendall communicates elements both of her gardening and writing processes, and the essential relationship between them. The division between human activity and the natural world, and the poet’s resistance to this, is succinctly but strikingly probed in the line:

‘garden house divide
civilization –
as thin as that?’

-From ‘V
erge’

Throughout there are experiments which offer new challenges to the reader in this immensely varied collection, displaying Kendall’s exploration into the use of visual poetry and typography, and increasing the reader’s engagement, as they become involved in bringing its nuances to the surface. There is a huge creative energy and vibrancy behind the work, and its range is broad, spanning lyric poems, such as traditional sonnets, one or two-line fragments, arrangements with a variety of fonts, and examples where the text is effectively double exposed in appearance, as in ‘A little hedge-cutting?’, where this innovation potentially mimics the vibration of operating an electric hedge trimmer.
As a result, the poems are ambitious in their desire not only to represent experience in language, but to communicate some of the fundamental elements of the activity or object observed through maximising the poems potential, and what can be achieved with the written word on the page. The text works to provide more immediate and multi-sensory data of the experience than a simple re-telling.
In this way the poems, through their innovation, suggest a return to the source, a quest to assist us in remembering our place in the interconnected and co-dependent environments we inhabit.

Daniel Williams

A selection of Judy Kendall’s work is included in Long Exposure Issue 2, you can access it here.

Purchase a copy of ‘Insatiable Carrot’ here.

Long Exposure Magazine, Issue 2: Digital Release

The new edition of Long Exposure Magazine is ready! Featuring an internationally diverse range of creative work in a variety of forms. Access it here: http://joom.ag/g6Ob

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Long Exposure Magazine, Issue 2, Upcoming Release

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The second issue of Long Exposure Magazine will be made available online from this Friday, 19th June.

The edition is focused on a variety of eastern poetic and artistic forms, and features the collaborative work of Ron Rosenstock and Gabriel Rosenstock, combining haiku and photography, a sequence based on the art of Hiroshige, several examples of Haiga art work, visual poetry and more.

Keep updated here at the Long Exposure website, or follow the project on social media:

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Twitter: @longexposuremagazine

‘Alchemy of Water’- A Snap-Shot Review

What experience is created when the textual and the visual function in sync?
’Alchemy of Water’, a collaborative project between poets Tony Curtis and Grahame Davies and photographers Mari Owen and Carl Ryan, published in 2013 by Gomer Press, strongly informs the concept behind this project as a whole.
The book lays both elements side by side. Each concise, imagistic poem is a direct reaction to the picture reproduced on its corresponding page. This allows the reader clear insight into their interaction, a dialogue between the Welsh landscape and two of its prolific writers. Here, Curtis senses the pull of national identity in the movement of the south Wales tide:

Dawn over Swansea Bay:

the wet sand is filling with sky.

The boat’s chains are a rich and heavy necklace.

Those rust-ochre links will tie you to this place

whatever the rise of the tide,

whatever the blue-grey weather brings,

whenever the sea sings in these chains.

The sparseness of Curtis’ language, the use of sibilance and its subsequent musicality, intimately crafts a broader semantic resonance to the image. Each poem presents how emotional content can be derived from the landscape and how it has been pictured, also acknowledging the continual draw of its specifics and uniqueness.
The interaction between word and image, in any manifestation, is what this project aims to continue to explore.

The Haiku and Contemporary Poetry

Haiku is an ancient Japanese poetic form, yet through its characteristics it continues to be suited to contemporary poetry. There are several reasons for this lasting relevance. One, the haiku is grounded in compression, and an economy of the language used. Every word is made to carry weight, and must subsequently add to the piece as a whole, avoiding the superfluous. This provides a structure and guidance for the writer to focus-in on and crystallise an idea or image. Through this process, every unnecessary element is stripped back to leave a clear observation.
With this in mind, the form has high compatibility with observation in general. Its style is tied to every-day events and the perception of these, and, as a result, haiku often provide sharp snap-shots of the ordinary. Arguably, this snap-shot like quality is most comparable to the techniques of photography and film, in that the poem is able to take a single moment and hold it still, letting it echo, preserving it to be viewed and experienced again at a later time. In our fast-paced society, we feel it compulsory to record our experiences through the technology immediately at our fingertips, our phones and digital cameras. The haiku, then, could be seen to form part of a linguistic equivalent to capturing events visually, able to embody not only what was observed, but also give a sense of its importance to and effect on us, further communicating this to the reader. The importance of this interaction is explained by scholar David Cobb, who notes:
‘The appreciation of haiku is a matter of collaboration between poet and reader, the one (to use a metaphor from photography) exposing something to the light, and the other developing it. As well as being half-stated, it is also under-stated, with sparing resort to the eye-catching metaphor or the subjective attribute, which might be said to be typical of much Western poetry. Haiku aims to be plain and simple, but at the same time subtle.’
Through this simplicity, haiku is particularly attuned to nature, especially the progress of the seasons. In traditionally formal haiku, one key word, called a kigo, acts as a general evocation of nature or of human activities at that time of year. This reminder to maintain a greater awareness of nature has been an underlying catalyst for poetry throughout history, and in our own time the haiku serves to help us tune back in to the world we inhabit. This attitude is perhaps best exemplified in the words of Chigetsu:

the song bird’s song-

it stops what I am doing

at the sink