This poem, originally published in Staple 72, was shortlisted for The Forward Prize For Best Single Poem 2011.
The ‘Cells’ sequences (i-iii) are a collection of haiku drawn from a number of collaborative projects I undertook with other artists and poets over the past decade. In the original ‘Cells’ exhibition I worked with the artist Paul Evans, creating poems alongside a series of watercolours he had painted. The work was first shown at the Cupola Gallery, Sheffield, in autumn 2007, then at the 20-21 Visual Arts Centre in Scunthorpe and furthermore in the Origin010 exhibition at the SIA Gallery, Sheffield. Other haiku are collected from Call and Response and from a collaboration with Paul Evans and the poet Matthew Clegg for the new Cancer Genetics Building in Cardiff. The poems and paintings were ‘unveiled’ at the opening of the facility in 2010.
Miniatures and Jigs and Reels
‘Miniatures’ was originally published as a limited edition pamphlet by Longbarrow Press in 2007. ‘Jigs and Reels’ appeared in a pamphlet of the same name (Shoestring Press, 2013) with ‘Skin’, ‘Now, now is the perfect time of my life’, ‘Movies’, ‘King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’, ‘The Reading’ and ‘An Invitation’.
This poem was written as a commission for the Alfred Denny Museum, University of Sheffield, in collaboration with the artist Paul Evans and the photographer Karl Hurst. The poem was also included in ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’, an exhibition featuring various artists’ work at 20-21 Visual Arts Centre, Scunthorpe in 2012-13.
Death and the Gallant
The extract of The Journal of William Dowsing I use here comes from a volume edited by the Rev C. H. Evelyn White (published in 1885). A full copy of Dowsing’s text can be read online in various versions. My interest in Pre-Reformation wall painting came in part from Andrew Graham-Dixon’s television series A History of British Art and his accompanying book (1996). The first chapter, ‘Dreams and Hammers’, offers an excellent introduction to ideas of iconoclasm and its effects on the British psyche. For a more academic overview of iconoclasm during the Reformation, see Eamon Duffy’s The Stripping of the Altars (Yale University Press, 2005). Much of the information I use for Death and the Gallant comes from Medieval Wall Paintings by Roger Rosewell (The Boydell Press, 2008). Finally, an online resource I frequently visited was Paintedchurch.org. The site catalogues many examples of various Biblical (and religious) paintings, offering glimpses of how our medieval churches would have appeared to their congregations.
I invited the English poet Ken Smith (1938-2003) to read in Sheffield in 1998. A good selection of his work can be found in The Poet Reclining: Selected Poems 1962-1980 (Bloodaxe, 1982), and in Shed: Poems 1980-2001 (Bloodaxe, 2002).