Friday, March 03, 2017

Alistair Noon at Horgos

Entry to the EU:  the Serbia/Hungary border crossing at Horgos (when it was temporarily closed in 2015)

[Image source:]

No time for anything today, except... -- Some time earlier this week, I was reading poetry reviews by Billy Mills, a reviewer I admire very much.  One of them presented a rather critical view of Alistair Noon's new poetry collection The Kerosene Singing.

Noon's urbane continental and stubbornly different poetry (different from most other UK poetry I mean) is unfinished business so far as I'm concerned. I've been meaning to read more of it for ages. But I recognize some of Mills' dismay. Irony and reserve are not typical virtues of most of the modern poetry I like to read.

Then again, I also remember Peter Riley's brilliant discussion of a Noon sonnet.

Here's the sonnet:

Late at night the Balkan languages clog
at Horgos, where they wait to gain admittance
to the circle of stars. A see-through smog
surrounds the returners from the remittance
economy: static, running exhausts
and the world’s greatest mass cigarette break,
as coaches queue up for one of the ports,
bays with a quay, where the night shift’s awake.
We hoot, or cheer each inch; the wise just doze.
No border guard knows the meaning of soon.
Priština, Niš, to Dortmund, Ulm. One
goes to Miriampol. (O beautiful moon
of Miriampol… Sat in East Berlin,
Bobrowski looked up). Here’s Europe. We’re in.

I've spent five minutes looking for something I could quote from Johannes Bobrowski, but time's up!

Aerial view of the Serbia/Hungary border crossing at Horgos

[Image source: . Photo by Civertan]



At 8:32 pm, Anonymous Billy Mills said...

I quite liked some of Noon's book, Michael, and do feel he may be moving away from the irony.

At 1:18 am, Blogger Michael Peverett said...

Thanks Billy. I hope folks will read your review, it was more nuanced than I represented it here.


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