BOOKS / Poetry: Carol Rumens on two exciting new collections

LIVING in Cumbria, William Scammell faces the dilemma of the poet whose habitat has already become literature. In these post-modern times, ignoring the notables and quotables at your shoulder is scarcely an option, though. Bleeding Heart Yard (Peterloo pounds 6.95), his latest volume, provides a genial 'open house' for many, from William Wordsworth, famous for 'walking sideways, / going boom boom boom' to Ken Russell, 'brandishing his Panaflex / at Mother Nature's teeming sex . . . '

'Stare at the Moon', from which these lines are taken, is a tour de force in the Pushkin stanza, tumultuously rounding off a collection where the technique is always fluent, the wit sparkling. Mimicry, a useful but double- edged gift, proves dangerous only in the more intimate poems, those which hold the brilliant mind at bay and grapple with an uneasier heart. There is, for example, the slightly Larkinesque ending of 'Poem for a Younger Son': 'Words for the wordy, parsons for sheep, / and the rush of the angel nowhere, nowhere / but waking out of the family sleep.' (my italics.) Knowingness can be a virtue, but it is that guarded, parenthetical exclamation ('Damn fool]') as the speaker watches the hang-gliding boy launch himself into 'strong, creaky arms of wind' which signals an 'un-knowingness' that may after all be a more likely place than 'the code of the competent' for a poem to begin.

The hang-gliders in Jeremy Reed's substantial new collection, Red-Haired Android (Paladin pounds 6.99), are shown in long-shot, as they 'dragonfly across the bay' ('Advances'). The image seems a fitting symbol of the delicate precision, theatricality and sense of unexplored, blue-lit space that permeate Reed's enterprise.

'The logo on his T-shirt reads Sky High, / a blue rectangle inserted on red, / a yellow rocket on its launching- pad. / The sea keeps bringing pieces of the sky ashore, blue-fractured planes, alto-cirrus. / His topless girlfriend wears a leather tie, / and reads Interzone . . .' ('Sky High'). Reed seems to be obsessively videoing such characters, searching for clues to the new states of mind - and ennui - of the young, rich and stylish, as they try to occupy the 'unfillably modern' day.

Fascinated by artifice - the androids, aliens, clones, cross-dressers, etc who are, of course, versions of ourselves, Reed keeps faith with his older affection for the untouched 'visuals' around us, the cornflowers like 'royal- blue suns', the 'azure rift accordioned into black and white' of a jay.

Even though he sometimes mistakes the energy of youthful iconoclasm for high poetic engagement, he remains a significant writer who, by colonising popular culture with traditional formal and linguistic tools, seems to provide a missing, mid-Atlantic link between the Imagists and their descendants (such as Ashbury) and the English Georgians and theirs.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Dunne, played by Ben Affleck, finds himself at the centre of a media storm when his wife is reported missing and assumed dead

film
Arts and Entertainment
Lindsay Lohan made her West End debut earlier this week in 'Speed-the-Plow'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Artist Nathan Sawaya stands with his sculpture 'Yellow' at the Art of Brick Exhibition

art
Arts and Entertainment
'Strictly Come Dancing' attracted 6.53 million viewers on Friday
tv
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant plays Detective Emmett Carver in the US version on Broadchurch

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor goes undercover at Coal Hill School in 'The Caretaker'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Ni , Rock of Rah, Vanuatu: The Ni live on one of the smallest islands of Vanuatu; Nelson flew five hours from Sydney to capture the 'isolation forged by their remoteness'
photographyJimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style
Arts and Entertainment
David Byrne
musicDavid Byrne describes how the notorious First Lady's high life dazzled him out of a career low
Arts and Entertainment
Sergeant pfeffer: Beatles in 1963
booksA song-by-song survey of the Beatles’ lyrics
Arts and Entertainment
music'I didn't even know who I was'
Arts and Entertainment
Cheryl was left in a conundrum with too much talent and too few seats during the six-chair challenge stage
tvReview: It was tension central at boot camp as the ex-Girls Aloud singer whittled down the hopefuls
Arts and Entertainment
Kalen Hollomon's Anna Wintour collage

art
Arts and Entertainment

TV Grace Dent on TV
Arts and Entertainment

Music
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

music
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer is believed to be playing a zombie wife in Patient Zero

film
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Gatiss says Benedict Cumberbatch oozes sex appeal with his 'Byronic looks' and Sherlock coat
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Clothing items bearing the badge have become popular among music aficionados
musicAuthorities rule 'clenched fist' logo cannot be copyrighted
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson will star in Seth MacFarlane's highly-anticipated Ted 2

film
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike in 'Gone Girl'

film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

    Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

    and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
    Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

    Last chance to see...

    The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
    So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

    Truth behind teens' grumpiness

    Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

    Hacked photos: the third wave

    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
    Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

    Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

    Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
    Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

    Education, education, education

    TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
    It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

    It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

    So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
    This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

    Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

    Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
    We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

    Inside the E15 'occupation'

    We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
    Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

    Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

    Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
    Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

    Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

    The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
    Witches: A history of misogyny

    Witches: A history of misogyny

    The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
    Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

    Meet the most powerful woman in US television

    Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
    'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

    Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

    Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style