The Lovely Disciplines by Martyn Crucefix
The Lovely Disciplines is the new poetry collection by renowned author Martyn Crucefix. Displaying his characteristic flair, craft and intelligence, Crucefix’s poems often begin with the visible, the tangible, the ordinary, yet through each act of attentiveness and the delicate fluidity of the language they re-discover the extraordinary in the everyday.
In the first section, ‘Scree we Ride’, there are a number of these epiphanies, sometimes glowing as if with newly-minted significance, though as often the effect achieved can be unsettling, a revision of our usual relations with the world. There is a subtly erotic encounter with an optician; an Emersonian meditation on a scrawled note in a used book; the memory of a dear friend strangely manifested in the handle of a well-used knife. We see Crucefix here as the poet of the revelatory moment.
Part 2, ‘The Lovely Disciplines’ is not just the centre but the emotional heart of this new collection. It features a number of tender poems that recollect moments with ageing parents: a father, losing his memory, gets lost driving a familiar route, with such loss prefiguring wider and deeper losses to come; a childhood home is suddenly shorn of its reassuring familiarity, seemingly inhabited by ghosts and become so unstable as to be transformed into ‘The House of your Parents as a Waterfall’. As bricks and mortar come into question so, as in the poem ‘Skype’, relationships suffer and pixilate into fragments of the protagonist’s personal history as much as a historical past. Conversations with once-sharp parents swerve dizzyingly from the tiniest domestic detail to death and the after-life.
In the final third of this book, ‘Boy Racer’, poems range more widely across contemporary events but always with Crucefix’s characteristic sense of philosophical enquiry, curiosity and linguistic inventiveness. There are also a number of subtle, beautifully original love poems. In truth, ‘The Lovely Disciplines’ turn out to be the humanly necessary ones of attention, devotion, dedication, ultimately of love. With this highly accomplished mid-career book, Martyn Crucefix confirms his reputation as one of the most significant poets of his generation.
Published by Seren, 31 July 2017