This week’s poem is from Nerys Williams’ debut collection, Sound Archive, which won the 2012 DLR Strong Award.
Sound Archive is the strikingly original first collection of poems from Nerys Williams. Using formal strategies similar to modernist painting: abstraction, dislocation, surrealist juxtaposition, the poet conjures a complex music, intriguing narratives, and poems full of atmosphere that query identity, gender, and the dream of art as a vehicle for emotion and meaning. There is a playful lightness of touch and tone and for every serious inquisition like ‘An Anatomy of Arguments’ or ‘Conversations with Cocteau’, there is a poem that will muse on ‘Canter’s Starstruck Diner, L.A.’ or on the ‘artifacts’ left by Marilyn Monroe, in ‘Marilyn’s Auction House’. Williams confronts our preconceptions about what it might mean to be a woman writing against the background of two formidable traditions: that of Welsh-speaking Wales and of English literature. A thoughtful, subtle and fascinating first collection.
for Cliff Anderson
It takes patience this piecing
of noise in an archive for voices.
Chronicled on my silver-silicon
a focus of of gravity gone, scene unset.
Tempos in the unthreading
of flight beating.
the voice still says:
Do not package me
as an afterthought or a bulletin.
Though I have never been to Spain
I understand attachment theory
and have been told of thanatology.
Raise your glass to this last flourish
as I switch from Andante to Largo
I toast Dubrovnik, Elvis and Chopin
free the slaves of my imagination.
I will wear boaters in the rain
and fill one room with flowers.
I will raise hell in remaining chapels
never searching for injunctions nor pardons.
I will be the sage on the hill
filling in for memorial towers.
I will finish that string quartet
begun at twenty-five.
I will flirt with the ladies at the till
and get my groceries free.
I will smoke over the baby grand
turning to my right for a tumbler of gin.
I will mark a map of all colours felt
frame them into a continent.
There will be methods to my madness
which I will name kinetic imbalance.
On this day
thought is blown over the wall
over trees to the road,
jazzed up and jiving
a bouquet of spectral dandelions
for you to hold.