Thursday, 11 November 2010

UEA Writers #3: Todd Swift w/illustration by Natalie Orme

Etcetera is flattered to be featuring three poems by Todd Swift. Todd, for those who don't know, is a major figure in the world of UK poetry. His blog, Eyewear, is full of good things, and Todd is continually championing new writers, as well as helping bring British poetry to others around the world. So it is with great pleasure that we offer you three of his poems, alongside illustrations by the excellent Natalie Orme.

Essay Number One

What is different is the availability
Of information regarding disease
And financial options, in relation to
The globalization process, enhanced

By internet-driven technologies. Or
Does technology drive the net? This
Chicken-egg dilemma may prove
Insoluble. In practice I am quite sad.

Alienation theory would once have
Been a useful indicator of the climate.
It seems rather simplistic, though,
Post-Iraq (and so on), to claim any

Unique relationship to ennui or despair.
Nearly two-thirds of the world’s people are
Without clean drinking water, and some
Of us are born with conditions

Which mean that their skin sloughs off
Like tissue paper at the slightest touch.
In the context of new forms of super-bug
Which know no treatment or prevention,

And increasing destabilization due to
The rise of small groups sworn to destroy
The “Western” hegemonic system; not to
Mention proliferation of a number of

Equally disturbing trends relating to
Genetic and nano as well as bio tech issues;
Better to leave it unsaid. The increase
In poetic dissemination of material suggests

Not a triumph of content over discontent,
But instead the lack of demand triggering
An anxiety of production – a terrible
Struggle to produce something worthy.

"These women, dreams"

These women, dreams:
How they come to me,
Remain. Dragged
From the wreck of sea,

In chainmesh, to wake,
And a puritan challenge.
The small church (my body)
Rolls on the hill beneath

A sky purpling with fire
And will not break, but does
Reflect a faith’s quake.
The heart’s encased in fluid,

Palpates like immersion
In her, in the modern flood.
Little thieves, they steal sleep,
Desecrate the pews.

I walk down the aisle of them,
Bereft by the booklets
They’ve torn into figurines
Of paper and torment.

I wake in the glean, lament
The fuzz and brisk of you
And she and her and then
All is parchment and ancient

And the hull of the earth
Breaks on stone and dries
And the sea-swung girls
Turn like tides.

On The Sublime

Green is the widest colour other than black which extends
Like an ocean, as far as the mind’s hand; it is edible, lush,

Can be found in the iris, on scissor handles, ballpoint pens.
To leap your horse across the test, from Orion to Point X

Without felling steeples is a minor miracle, a major turn,
And suggests godlike prowess, the sinews of the angelic

Or years of practice in the heavens with atomic jodhpurs
Made of gold peeled from Midas as he slept cold dreams.

Todd Swift is a lecturer at Kingston University in English Literature and Creative Writing and a tutor for The Poetry School. His most recent collections are Seaway: New and Selected Poems (Salmon, 2008) and Mainstream Love Hotel (Tall-lighthouse, 2009), and a free-to-download ebook from Argotist, Experimental Sex Hospital. Todd has edited or co-edited many international anthologies, including Poetry Nation, 100 Poets Against The War, and (with Evan Jones) Modern Canadian Poets (Carcanet, 2010). Todd recently blogged on The Young British Poets for The Best American Poetry blog. His poems have appeared widely, in places such as Poetry London, Poetry Review. He has been Oxfam GB Poet-in-residence, and runs the London-based Oxfam Poetry Series. He has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia (UEA) and is currently conducting doctoral research. He lives in London. He blogs at Eyewear.

Natalie Orme is a freelance illustrator and graphic designer. She co-edits Etcetera, and blogs here. Her work has been exhibited in Norwich and London, and she would like to collaborate with you.

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