Thursday, May 01, 2008

Columbo - "Oh, and one more thing..."

I've been reading quite a lot recently - in particularly, and slowly, Rupert Loydell's latest from Shearsman, An Experiment in Navigation. There's something about his poems, and the way that they meditate around issues of art, spierituality, representation and lyric that I find fascinating. His style is laconic, undemonstrative, edging towards prosiness and away from a strongly musical rhythm; but under the style is an enquiring mind and a sense of the strangeness of language. In one poem, he can be as plain as a pikestaff, deeply personal, and move into the mysterious use of technical language, culled from his own enormous reading. His use of collage to create many of his texts never seems forced or clever in any way; it somehow seems to flow together into a poem that investigates, subtly and without you noticing mostly, what the possibilities of language are in describing, or rather connoting, the world of phenomena.

Perhaps this is what led me to think of the nature of innovative writing. This book, and the thought of an interview for an MA course in Creative Writing: Innovation & Experiment. There was a question about this on the letter inviting me to the interview, and yesterday, I sat down in a coffee-bar and thought about this. I suddenly had this vision of Columbo, having just interviewed the suspect, turning back to him as he reaches the door, and saying: "Oh, and just one more thing..." The suspect is caught off guard and made to answer on the hoof, and so reveals himself for the duplicitous cad he really is...

So the innovative poet can operate - while language or the reader thinks it's got away with its description or understanding of the world, the poet comes in with one further question, one further twist: Did you really mean to say that? That's innovation for me, and that what Rupert Loydell's poems do for me.

1 comment:

bgz said...

what a superb account, both of Loydell's work and of what real innovation is like for the reader.

Terrific.