“Someone is singing, beyond the patio and the hedgerow, a song so sweet it might have been sung in paradise. Inconsolable melos. A lyric in a strange tongue. It sounds like part elegy, part yearning. Like someone nostalgic, perhaps, for a lost continent, a ‘beginning’…”
Interlocutors of Paradise is a sumptuous collection of five short atmospheric meditations that dares to confront colonialised places from the perspective of a colonialiser, in this case a well travelled British poet. Written as a series of provocative, symbolist-tinged prose-poems, each section situates the reader in beautifully crafted spaces, hollows to be filled either by spiritual purpose or by wilful invasion that then becomes inherently political. Martin Anderson, an the author of various books of poetry including The Ash Circle and Belonging, is emerging as a skilful writer of poignant but elegantly powerful and sensitive poems. His poems are largely concerned with locale and the various residues to be experienced at the precise moment of visitation, whether natural or man-made environs. His style transports the reader, imbues them with a unique ontological experience, all the while gently prodding them towards notions of identity and purpose.
Anderson’s poems display an earthy but multidimensional aesthetic that plays on the senses in an invitational and experiential way. Gustaf Sobin heartily agrees: “Great purity and acuity, and a perfect ear. A wonderful poet.” His poems are full of visionary and incantatory language that speaks to a deep and often secretive yearning. Nathaniel Tarn explains: “Beautiful writing — treasure trove of emanations: orchards, hedgerows, meadows, coastlines, a land I used to know and still love in the nerves. A stilling for the nerves. The texture thick with an ancient country’s history now learning to trace back, through all its exploitations, the sources of an elegy for lost empire. Has English poetry made the best out of that drawn-out loss?” Indeed Anderson embraces what is both lost and found in his sensorial aggretisation of experience, in poems that are snapshots of totalic ambience, the what is and what is not, the rarefaction to be experienced in common moments. His is a higher focus with more depth to the gaze than to be found in standard poetic landscapes. As with the work of someone like W.G. Sebald, his poems combine the sensorial with memoir, history, biography and travelogue.
There is also an analytical quality to the poems but powerfully subtle and often soft stated. The gaze is extended to haunting residues of collective memory and political ramifications of the future. As the poet explains – “The Poems begin by evoking the historical formation and expression of national identity – an identity predicated on past colonial and imperial activities. The meditations that follow are largely situated within that region of the Thames estuary where Joseph Conrad lived, set and conceived Heart of Darkness. The Thames, that river in the book on which floated “The dreams of men, the seed of commonwealths, the germs of empire”, figures prominently also in the book’s opening meditation, where it is the setting of, amongst other things, Edmund Spenser’s poem Prothalamion and his friend Sir Walter Raleigh’s departure and voyage to Roanoke in the New World. In the final meditation its presence fades giving way, instead, to the aspirant spaces of a settled New World. But a world not ‘settled’ enough to have eradicated restlessness.”
As a traveller of these distinct places and metaphoric paths Anderson has learned to transmit the flux and mutability of their intrinsic properties to the page. Skylight Press is honoured to publish this new collection of dynamic poems in support of an important British poet.
Interlocutors of Paradise is available from various retail outlets such as Amazon, Amazon UK, or direct from the Skylight Press website.