Tuesday, March 03, 2020

the face in the dream

Collage by Tom Raworth, c. 1989

[Image source: http://jacketmagazine.com/04/cccp.html .]


the face in the dream is a name in the paper
bicycle shop smells ('sometimes my brain sings')
ice crystals bleed : these songs are songs of love

the levels write : they say
please let me in : the lights go out
(sometimes my nails sing)

(Tom Raworth, found in As When: A Selection, ed. Miles Champion (2015).)


As When has been criticized in some quarters because it doesn't tell you where each of the poems first appeared. It nearly does. It lists all the source publications, with dates, and it tells us that the poems are in chronological order, but still, there's a little knowledge gap. And that's clearly deliberate.

It means that I know the poem I've quoted is from around 1970, but that's all. The effect of this withheld information is to make us experience As When as a fresh book in its own right (a collaborative Champion/Raworth creation), and not the way we usually read Selecteds, i.e. as meta-literature that gives us partial views of other books.

Ted Berrigan (left) and Tom Raworth, c. 1971

[Image source: https://in.pinterest.com/pin/64880050863226434/ .]

Tom Raworth's obituary of Anselm Hollo in The Independent, published 30th January 2013:

Geoff Ward's obituary of Tom Raworth in the Guardian, published 16th April 2017:

As often happens, this post turns out to have an unanticipated link with another recent post. Tom Raworth was born in Bexleyheath in 1938 and grew up in Welling, just down the road from Christopher Lee (Belvedere, born 1941), the future historian and dramatist who kept a diary of his time working on a tramp steamer. It's strange to think of these two young lads, both leaving school at fifteen, and their diversely unusual and impressive trajectories.



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