‘Spindles skimming through time' - Lucy Sheerman's Rarefied (falling without landing)
One of the most useful and exciting poetry anthologies of the past few years is Infinite Difference
, edited by Carrie Etter and published by Shearsman. This collection offers a look at 25 women writers working at the leading edge of poetry in English. The poems are varied, linguistically adventurous, and engaged with contemporary issues. Each poet also provides us with an introduction to her ways of working.
Lucy Sheerman is one of those poets. Lucy was born in Wales and brought up in Yorkshire. She founded rem press
with Karlien van den Beukel and went on to run the Poetic Practice Seminar with Dell Olsen and Andrea Brady. She is now a literature specialist at the Arts Council where she works to promote new writing.
In the introduction to her work in Infinite Difference
, she explains how it ‘attempts a partial reconstruction of the past by accumulating and assembling fragments of recollected memory, speech, found text and objects. Various narratives are set down, interrupted and distressed. Flashes of reconstructed memory are destabilised by their dislocation from authorial voice or context. Some fragments are damaged beyond repair, the loss of meaning final and irrevocable... However there is also pleasure in the seepage and clumsy stitching of the poems which are full of cuts, gashes and scars as well as a gothic appetite for the drama of loss they play out.'
This gives us an interesting way into her new pamphlet Rarefied (falling without landing)
She generates a fascinating sequence by fusing, superimposing and juxtaposing two very disparate sets of text. The first is Catullus 64, that mini-epic which focuses on Theseus abandoning Ariadne on Naxos, but which incorporates so much else, with such a range of poetic techniques. The second set of texts come from interviews with the wives of the Apollo astronauts.
It would require a very long article to tease out the resonances, ramifications and felicities of Lucy's intriguing and pleasurable poem. And it is not easy to excerpt from, being skillfully woven, like Ariadne's embroidery in the Catullus poem. The best we can do here is provide one short sample, and recommend the whole:
She strolls over the small, bright square of grass,
each blade frosted with light, waxed lyrical.
The real world creaking at the edge of sight.
Marooned in the night she counts her blessings -
invisible bruises, bluish flowers.
Graceless, grass returns to dust. Passionless,
weary expectation fades past tending.
She just looks upon the moon and the stars,
gifts he gave to the dark and empty skies.
Incongruous as rain in the desert.Lucy Sheerman
's Rarefied (falling without landing)
is published by Oystercatcher Press. It costs £5 including UK p&p. Visit oystercatcherpress.com
for further details.Peter Hughes
' poetry publications include Paul Klee's Diary
, The Summer of Agios Dimitrios
and The Pistol Tree Poems
. Nathan Thompson writes of it as ‘flickering, intense, innovative and utterly mesmerising'.