Shadow stands up #4

It was great to see some of the Mix and Mash entries, not just because some small shadows of my ‘Shadow Stands Up’ poem appeared there (though that was certainly interesting), but because they demonstrated what can happen now when the ancient practice of echoing or reworking existing texts (when did the ‘Homeric Hymns’ settle into the written form we know? When did the Mahabharata coalesce?) meets a contemporary practice of assemblage and collage in writing and art, and does so in an on-line environment. The John Ashbery metaphor of the poet riding a bike down a hill, unsure whether he or the bike is doing the propulsion, works here too – but without the material drag of the poem as mass, as pages in a book, somehow bearing all that effort of production beyond the poem itself. In an on-line environment, these cut-ups and re-assembles have a new kind of lightness that’s probably deceptive, though. I was very struck both by the deftness and lightness of Kate Waterhouse’s poem ‘Domus – home, dwelling’, and by the dense evidence of thought and work in it, and by its seriousness.


My first home, which I shared with
my twin brother David, was
our mother’s womb. This is the
first sentence of the book that’s
got me thinking about what
exactly memory does
and what time it does that in,
for example, when was I
‘I’ when I wrote that sentence,
was I in the time of the
tardy twin hanging back in
the warm, shady womb, or was
I out here in the cold light
of day, too late now to say
wait as Dave’s shadow stands up
and moves into the neither
here nor there we live in while
everything remarkable
in the world packs the foreground’s
augmented reality
that never lasts long enough.

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