Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Index July 2005 (plus one more Buzz picture)

One more image from the Buzz: Alien Fissure reading at Lincoln's Inns Field.href="http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/6552/827/1600/Buzz%20026.jpg">

Index to Pages third series

(Just click onto the appropriate month under Archive on the right; an index for that month will appear at the top of each)

July 2005

473: The Poetry Buzz (images! new technology!)
472: Robert Sheppard: The Anti-Orpheus/Rattling the Bones
471: Scott Thurston: Sounding Scheme
470: Robert Hampson: Synthetic Feed
469: Robert Sheppard: A History of the Other, part five

June 2005

Too busy

May 2005

468: Adrian Clarke: from MUZZLE
467: Marianne Morris: from Easter Poems
466: Robert Sheppard: Looking Back at Place and Open Field Poetics
465: Robert Sheppard: A History of the Other: Part four
464: Ken Edwards: from BARDO

April 2005

463: Robert Sheppard: TEXTintoTEXT
462: Robert Sheppard: A History of the Other: Part three
461: Neon Highway Interview with Robert Sheppard
460: Alice Lenkiewicz: Poems from Maxine

March 2005

459: Robert Sheppard: Cobbing: Two Sequences
458: Robert Sheppard: Bob Cobbing and Concrete Poetry
457: Bob Cobbing: Exhibition, Performances and Links
456: Robert Sheppard: You Need Hands: Iain Sinclair’s Dining on Stones
455: Tony Trehy: Coprophilia
454: Ian Davidson: Too Long
453: Robert Sheppard: A History of the Other: Part two.

February 2005

446: Robert Sheppard: Editorial to the Third Series/Afterword to Pages, the Second Series (moved out of sequence)
452: John Seed: from Pictures from Mayhew
451: Dee McMahon: Three Poems
450: Robert Sheppard: New Memories: Allen Fisher’s Gravity as a Consequence of Shape
449: Allen Fisher: Mezz Merround
448 Rupert Loydell: ‘Entangled’ (for Allen Fisher)
447: Robert Sheppard: A History of the Other: Part one.

© the authors, 2005

Sunday, July 24, 2005

The Poetry Buzz : a bus ride with/and for Allen Fisher

The Poetry Buzz was an event to celebrate the publication of three big books by Allen Fisher: Place (Reality Street), Gravity (Salt) and Entanglement (The Gig). (See Pages 448-9; 446 465- 469 for work by/on Allen Fisher) . It consisted of a ride around many of the sites metnioned in his work. Part poetry reading, part carnival, part magical mystery tour. Framed by photos of the bus, from top to bottom, I've posted here:

Bill Griffiths reading in Brixton Plaza (one of the three stops along the way), while Allen Fisher stands to the right, and Lawrence Upton stood to the left. Rob Hollway (along with Paige Mitchell, the organiser of the day) manfully holds the amp up for Bill.

Harry Gilonis as the uniformed conductor of our chaos collecting the fares.

Allen Fisher reading in Spring Gardens, Vauxhall, the second of the stops (the third being Lincoln's Inn Fields) sporting his new name on a t shirt designed by Dell Olsen.

Page 473

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Robert Sheppard: The Anti-Orpheus/Rattling the Bones

The following is an update of the introduction to The Anti-Orpheus, delivered at the Great Writing 2005 conference at the University of Portsmouth on 11 June.

Here's a general page (you can see all of my Shearsman books here too): Sheppard, Robert (shearsman.com)

There is a link to The Anti-Orpheus there (if the one below doesn’t work for you).

Here’s a new direct link to the piece: https://irp-cdn.multiscreensite.com/12e499a6/files/uploaded/Sheppard_anti-orpheus.pdf

Between 1989 and 2000 I worked on a long project of interconnected poems called Twentieth Century Blues that has been published, so far, in parts, but is due to be published in its entirety in September 2006 by Salt . After this long work I undertook what politicians like to call 'a period of reflection'. Indeed, it had been my practice throughout the project to produce – sometimes for publication, sometimes not – works of poetics that are indeed parts of the project itself. So it seemed natural to consciously write poetics towards what I might do next.

At the same time I was completing a long history of alternative British poetries, The Poetry of Saying. Its central thesis is that there is a poetry of saying that opposes itself to a poetry of the said; but that the modes of openness and indeterminacy in the saying have to be embodied finally in the closedness and determinacy of the said. This ethical distinction is derived from the work of the philosopher Levinas, and it was inevitable that this work should influence my poetics.

Also simultaneously with this was my own pedagogic commitment to poetics as a mode of speculation for students of creative writing at Edge Hill. A previous presentation to Great Writing 2002, collected now in the pamphlet The Necessity of Poetics, argues that poetics involves speculatively casting into the future. Poetics is a discipline, though a flexible one, but more importantly: it is a discourse, though an intermittent, mercurial one. It is a way of letting writers question what they think they know, a way of allowing creative writing dialogue with itself, beyond the monologic of commentary or reflection. It often surfaces in hybrid forms or in the creative work itself.

Poetics exists for oneself and for others, to produce, "a permission to continue". Poetics is a speculative discourse, not a descriptive one.

I believe all creative writing students (and more so the higher the level of their work), and not just producers of innovative forms, should be encouraged to produce such work, but rather than arguing this again today, I want to perform one of my pieces of speculation. It is worth noting that, looking back, some of this has been very productive for me, other parts not so. Or not yet.

I offer this work as an example, not as a model.

I then read The Anti-Orpheus: a notebook, which is available as a downloadable e-book from Shearsman Books

There is a link to The Anti-Orpheus there (if the one below doesn’t work for you).

Here’s a direct link to the piece: https://irp-cdn.multiscreensite.com/12e499a6/files/uploaded/Sheppard_anti-orpheus.pdf  

A further piece of hybrid work, Rattling the Bones for Adrian Clarke has recently been published by Softblow. Recnet work by Adrian (and links) may be found on Page 468.

Page 472

Monday, July 18, 2005

Scott Thurston: Sounding Scheme

for a top dormant
clay spike

lends statue cleared

plinth vacated on
tease toe

left on aware heart

cleaned off, the folly
began my round nuances
of fear in the midst of
fast walking feud you

a turn to warn and retreat
out of the glade

not with standing anything but a

is the crucial

misjudged print at exact congruent
augmented third

null. or raided
logic prepares coated butts

dull hits lites
I get

but not over around
or on it

anything but dated fantasy
on the corner
held cigarette as
darting morsel
in swagger in the back
of that disadvantaged
neighbourhood smoke screen
the photo pressed cardboard bio
lending deft glances to
lithe swifts
to decay the visible

what is the necessary page
of produce that lends
the right air

that speaks what you always
knew and wanted to

before touch could intervene
the strategic spill of

your brave purchasing ours
but lacking in the later

stayed too long which probably how
hell finished to like your smile
and ill-advised flattering kick

shamed me to it platform dispersal
and fast perspectives reek of the
lived world far behind it

sound tiles one by one for the
formative digital increase the
hot new resolution

lifts numbingly in prehensile gauze
top-stripping out the séance baize
fluctuations of light and gravy flung
before the hearth

treat pencil scratchings to the big
burger fest of well-spokenness on
a dart ghost

heathen and strung out slung strumming
to take a tub-thump full on held
under kicks
of a force

to be reckoned with

of course on fit full stating
to curb turned curdles into riot
stations you battle where
shiny defences shield tapers
behind the lines as well as
before and afore cut tell deal
in alphanumeric clusters of steaming
wells of rice packs numbed
forefinger forfeit to the
ever-steadying increase of violence
on the pages

shielding for what coaxed offerings
dried in the gulch of awards
ranged to top targets

protection hardly adequate to the pursuit
with hounds rounds and pounds of pollution
you back into pack your surround sound

turf trials timed to perform in reckless
control indexed to success links cuffed
about fallen manners and left graces

shocked to stocked topped devices
full of the magical steaming goo that blasts
your flue beyond rhetorical mass delusion

preparing to weigh the unsolved
action on solid grounds
bound to run

on and off neat evasions rid
paste epithets suddenly


not timed but instantly effective
the trace of furnishings stylings
mouldings of the appearance
to take advantages laden with gifts
aflow with coke spectacles and
disciples lent penance to occupy
activity as earnings

HID exemplary distension
contended assimilable results
trained sights seen

the letter of support
treasured in an odd combative way
for business relative to pore

sunny open band
sunk a torch beam

you and yours light slight right
to rest bereft of tenderness
in a cynical sound scheme
to recuperate is the hardest
satisfaction remunerated excavated
rescue digs on the sullen sites
to pull out the post lowering ground
a cheat to empty space of possession
through a tribute to shifty old crafts
built to last too fast to meet
cruel refusals outside the case
of hardened display affection

their tolerances scheme approached
me with an offer as tempting as
salient of recent compressions
and recriminations over ill
concealed consolatory compensation
for sudden
look up the house excuse
directionary fumblings licking
up pole
a fan base cooling

not should be to wreck
tack to the north
to bring trajectories closer
via storage rings
& queens

Scott Thurston's publications include Turns (with Robert Sheppard (Shipof Fools/Radiator, 2004), State(s)walk(s) (Writers Forum, 1994) andPoems Nov 89 - Jun 91 (Writers Forum, 1991). He currently teaches English Literature and Creative Writing at The University of Salford. Hold: Poems 1994-2004 is due out from Shearsman in 2006. Read some more recent poems: Rescale and other pieces on Great Works. Read a fascinating work of poetics entitled Accreted Statements (and on poetics see my next posting). Read Thurston's review of Miles Champion's Three Bell Zero from Readings and his review of Geraldine Monk's Noctavigations. There is now an article on his work on Readings by Joe Brooker.

Page 471

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Robert Hampson: synthetic feed

4 cris cheek

accounts diverge
to continue
missing you already
a thousand miles
(not exactly)
that pause, that gesture
that half-begun
was it expensive
there was no opposition
changing names
to protect confidentiality
shift patterns
write the night
when I was younger
delivering papers
ten white & ten manila
we can’t afford it
working round the house
we need to talk
5 years (was it)
envelopes for Melanie
another survival
that was the scary part
all the responsibility
of the finance
the negotiable freedoms
of double-page spreads
(to be continued)

sulphur occurs
catch the drift
destroying the evidence
as good as a mile
not exactly
text & textiles
missing sentences
tell your fortune
what was lost
names changed
for domestic purposes
coming home
through variable weather
every girl was blonde
we didn’t get the message
legal documents
continually reconfigured
crated up & loaded
was it expressive
5 summers
in her white hat
match in hand
that was the scary part
all that effort
to chill dissent
registration scrawled
on the driver’s visor
starts a new page

Robert Hampson has at least two books of poetry out: Assembled Fugitives (from Stride), and Seaport, an account of Liverpool that has attracted some interest locally. See also his work with Robert Sheppard, Liverpool Hugs and Kisses here. He is also a Conrad scholar and a critic of contemporary poetry.
Page 470


Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Robert Sheppard: The History of the Other part five: Linguistically Innovative Poetry and Small Rooms in London

During the 1990s the clumsy term ‘Linguistically Innovative Poetry’ began to be used of much of the alternative British work of the era. It encompasses a poetic of increased indeterminacy and discontinuity, the use of techniques of disruption and of creative linkage, though its differences with the creative work of the British Poetry Revival do not constitute an absolute break. However, the increased willingness of emerging poets to operate theoretically, in terms of post-structuralist and other theory, to even expound poetics more coherently, was in marked contrast to an earlier lack of such discourse. Ultimately, the definition of ‘linguistically innovative’ is not to be found in the terms of its name. If anything, it is a term to constellate overlapping practices in the British alternative poetries from the 1980s onwards, which operated under less propitious conditions than its predecessors.

‘Linguistically Innovative Poetry’ had humble origins in the March 1988 issue of this magazine during its first series. Using the phrase to specify work ‘for which we haven’t yet a satisfactory name’, it was the way poet and critic Gilbert Adair described the kinds of British poetry he believed had been ‘operating since 1977’ in ‘fragmentation and incoherence’. The choice of date is decisive; it marks the Arts Council's takeover of the Poetry Society and the atomizing of the community of British Poetry Revival writers. Adair, possibly looking at it with a London bias and from the perspective of one who had not been a member of the British Poetry Revival, declared that there had been a ‘public invisibility of the poetry’ and ‘ditto of a theorizing discourse’.

Adair’s identification of the post 1977 (post-Poetry Society) conditions of the poetry include ‘decreasing publishing opportunities; wide gaps in continuations of public ... discussions’, and, looking towards the Movement Orthodoxy and the broader literary world, ‘a one-way “dialogue” with oppositions that largely expunge us from more public discussion, ... movement in a less visible, less real poetic community’. This contrasts with Eric Mottram's already discussed survey ‘The British Poetry Revival 1960-1975’, which celebrates reputations, achievements and opportunities. Yet as republished in Hampson and Barry’s volume New British Poetries in 1993, it carries an appendix, dated 1978, which narrates the end of the Poetry Society adventure. (This doesn’t, of course, mean that the narrative of the Poetry Society adventure is at all over; there is a book already written on this subject, I’m reliably informed.) This was the ‘fragmented and incoherent’ backdrop to the despair of the early 1980s, one echoed by Allen Fisher's identification, in the introduction to his 1985 Necessary Business essay, of those years as ‘a period of entrenchment and awe ... speaking in a considerably small room’. Politically, a bumbling 1970s social democracy had been replaced by a right wing ideology that wanted to change human consciousness, and nearly succeeded, ‘a culture fascinated with change, ruthless curtailment of job reliabilities, share-owning, and the legitimating professionalism’, as Adair put it in language redolent of common anti-Thatcher rhetoric of the era. (I notice that in a recent interview I say that she did change consciousness; at least she changed mine.)

The gesture of the 1988 anthology The New British Poetry to separate a section of British Poetry Revival work edited by Eric Mottram, entitled ‘A Treacherous Assault on British Poetry’, from the section ‘Some Younger Poets’, simultaneously acknowledges the proximity and difference of the two strands. Yet Ken Edwards, the editor of the latter section, notes both the sense of a revolution having been lost in the late 1970s, and the sense that his poets

have the previous generation’s work to refer to: a body of specifically British but non-parochial writing that has remained, thanks to the small presses, available and alive. Many of the poets at the younger end of this selection have started by discovering the work of Prynne, Mottram, Raworth, Harwood, Cobbing or RoyFisher

before American or European works.

Cris cheek recalled these troubled years, and again, taking a specific London perspective, noted:

Rapid deterioration began. For the best part of a decade from 1980 there was only really occasional Kings’ readings (put on by Eric Mottram), the Sub Voicive series curated by Gilbert Adair, and Bob Cobbing’s Writers Forum workshops. Allen Fisher ran workshops at Goldsmiths’ College which generated a focus and produced the Robert Sheppard, Adrian Clarke axis, and there were occasional programmes such as the RASP session in South London put together by Reality Studios and Spanner [the presses of Ken Edwards and Allen Fisher respectively]. But really the scene, which had been a steaming scene, went flat.

While cheek saw these years as an interregnum between the British Poetry Revival and the rise of ‘performance writing’ (to be analysed a couple of months time), I believe that these London based activities (and I was a participant, as the above suggests) were important for consolidating Linguistically Innovative Poetry, and were not as flat as cheek suggests. (And what an axis of ‘evol’ we were!) The scene was notable for including poets who had either not been bruised by the affairs of the 1970s, or who recognized that the entryism of the Poetry Society could only have ever been temporary. Cheek ignores a vigorous though admittedly smaller nexus of magazines than there had been in the 1970s; Hampson and Barry itemize the following:

Rod Mengham and John Wilkinson’s Equofinality, Tony Baker’s Figs, Martin Stannard’s joe soap’s canoe, John Welch’s The Many Review, Tony Frazer, Ian Robinson and Robert Vas Dias’s Ninth Decade, Robert Sheppard’s Pages, Ken Edwards’ Reality Studios, Paul Green’s Spectacular Diseases, and Ric Caddel’s Staple Diet.

To which may be added, for the 1990s: Drew Milne’s Parataxis, Anthony Mellors’ (and Andrew Lawson’s) Fragmente; a revitalized And, edited by Adrian Clarke and by Bob Cobbing (who had edited its first issue in 1954); Angel Exhaust (edited mainly by Andrew Duncan, but with serial co-editors including Adrian Clarke, Scott Thurston and Simon Smith, and recently revived,2005); Object Permanence, edited in Glasgow by Robin Purves and Peter Manson; Tony Frazer’s Shearsman and Ian Robinson’s Oasis, both slim regular magazines after their collaborative effort. Even slimmer but more regular (though short-lived) was Tom Raworth’s In Folio, which miniaturized the little magazine to a single folded A5 card, which was sometimes published daily! The fugitive nature of this last publication should remind us of the rebellious and contentious nature of small press publishing.

King’s Readings (based at Mottram’s college, where he became professor of American Literature) ran between the late 1970s and the mid 1980s, dovetailing on alternate Tuesdays with Gilbert Adair’s and Patricia Farrell’s Sub Voicive readings which began in 1980 and continued under different convenors. Adair was a research student of Mottram’s, but Sub Voicive was developing a new set of poets. There was a tendency for the British Poetry Revival poets to read at King’s, for example: Allen Fisher, Wendy Mulford, Cobbing and the not to be forgotten late Paul Evans, all of whom were in the ‘Treacherous Assault’ section of The New British Poetry, whereas Edwards’ ‘Some Younger Poets’ – for example, Maggie O’Sullivan, Geraldine Monk, Kelvin Corcoran, Gavin Selerie, and Edwards himself, tended to read at Sub Voicive. While both were literally ‘small rooms’, King’s Readings took place in an austere lecture theatre, whereas Sub Voicive was located in a series of hired rooms above pubs. It could be argued that the smaller audiences at Sub Voicive fostered a stronger community of writers, and newcomers were given a chance to read; often they took the opportunity to extend reading into performance. Writing in 1991, Adrian Clarke and myself stated that many Sub Voicive poets

have at one time performed their texts rather than simply read them, whether this has involved tapes, music, multiple voices, elements of drama and performance art, the creation of environments or the use of visual art.

Clare Buck describes The New British Poetry as ‘the first (anthology) to map the challenges in the 1970s and 1980s to the myth of a new postwar cultural consensus’. It was general edited by John Muckle, who himself read his fiction and poetry at Sub Voicive (Check out The Cresta Run from Galloping Dog and Cyclomotors as well as the new Shearsman book of poems). Muckle saw the opportunity to produce an anthology containing the alternative British poetries: black, feminist and two generations of experimental writers. The strict division of the work in representative sections reflected a moment when there was no crossover between poetry ‘scenes’ and no critical work to make such links.

While Mottram, as a former editor of the Poetry Review, was an obvious choice to edit a section of British Poetry Revival work, Edwards was selected because he was by the mid 1980s editing what was the most important magazine publishing Linguistically Innovative Poetry, Reality Studios. Beginning in 1978 as a few stapled sheets, distributed with another magazine, Hampson and Barry’s Alembic, it developed into a perfect bound paperback magazine with a print run of 500. The last volume appeared in 1988.

Reality Studios was important as a vehicle for poetics. The May-June 1980 issue, entitled ‘the death of a referent?’ was the first attempt to introduce the most recent American avant garde, the language poets, to a British audience. Edwards himself explained the poetry in a typically British politicized way as ‘reacting effectively to cultural/political enforcements ... by exposing the mechanisms whereby language is employed to naturalize historical determinations’. The use of the term ‘naturalization’ suggests that Edwards was attempting to rearticulate language theory using Forrest-Thomson’s British poetics, a move which predates Charles Bernstein’s own recasting of the theory by nearly a decade.

In the final issue of Reality Studios, Gilbert Adair reviews language poet Bruce Andrews’ poetry, and writes with a political edge that matches Edwards, but with an attention to Andrews’ awareness of language as an element of social control: ‘The proliferation of Andrews’ writing’ (and Adair names a group of both US and British writers who share this sense of proliferation, and it seems reasonable to assume this poetics for his own work)

is, it seems, a capitulation to the overproduction of message, commodity and rhythm in the consumerist urban environment, which nevertheless resists that by coupling quantity with the quality of each linguistic unit. It apes but contests the shit machine.

That a younger London writer was assimilating language poetry, and speaking of it in terms borrowed from Deleuze and Guattari to describe what they would call a ‘machinic’ mode of literary production, is emblematic of a dual interest around the mid 1980s in the theory of language poetry and the more radical edges of critical theory.

The British connection with language poetry seems obvious because ‘Linguistically Innovative Poetry’ could be a synonym for this term. But Bruce Andrews, in his introduction to the anthology Floating Capital: new poets from London (1991), demands we should forget national differences and speak of ‘this more inclusive field of so-called English language writing’, which shows the ‘same barriers being dismantled’. However much this is desirable, I have always expended my critical energies (perhaps at the expense of my academic career) on the specificities of the British context. (A new book is brewing, I can feel it in my postmodern waters!)

It has become common to remark the influence of the Vietnam War on the Post-War baby boom generation of North American language poets. Questions of ‘ideology, discourse, social rules, & epistemological paradigms or opacity or “sense”’ raised by Bruce Andrews’ academic work on US foreign policy found a place in his poetics. Protest at this War had been present in British Poetry Revival work but1980s Thatcherite Britain afforded a different situation. A foreign policy dominated by a fortuitous war in the South Atlantic and by a frantic last minute cold war before the Berlin Wall fell, was combined at least with an anti-nuclear official opposition in parliament, however unelectable. Outside of parliament inspirational protest, such as the Women’s Peace Camp at the American nuclear base at Greenham Common, bred a grim optimism in direct action. To be engaged in leftist politics in Britain in the 1980s was not the act of despair it was in 1970s America. The enemy and the evil were identifiable in all their absurd manifestations, as Tom Raworth noted in the poem West Wind, which might be thought typical of the combative political work of the 1980s, with its attacks on a ‘colourless nation/sucking on grief’. Linguistic innovation still held to the utopian resistance to the reality principle.

When Adrian Clarke and I edited the anthology Floating Capital in 1991, this anger formed its political background, although the aesthetic aim was to bring ‘linguistically innovative work’ into focus, and to foreground its utopian resistance.27 Its opening section contained the work of two poets, Bob Cobbing and Allen Fisher.

We celebrated Cobbing’s ‘exemplary journey of discovery and innovation’, the inspiration of Writers Forum and New River Project publications and performances. The project met in a large railway shed, the headquarters of the London Musicians’ Collective, whose members trickled over into some of the performances: the free jazz singer Phil Minton performed with Clive Fencott, and worked with Cobbing (as did David Toop and Paul Burwell, and – later - Lol Coxhill, from the same experimental grouping). The Interface issue of Reality Studios 6 (1984) featured visual poetries and non-linear poetries, much of it showcased in performance for one or more voice at venues like the New River (and SubVoicive). This included a framed set of still images from Maggie O’ Sullivan, and pages from Gilbert Adair’s Frog Box, a work later published by Writers Forum as a box of pages, most of which combine text and design, in which ‘frog’ acts as a kind of empty sign in a process of aping and contesting the shit machine. Fencott and Steve Moore’s The Manual of the Permanent Waver, a visual performance text generated by computer program from phrases of a hairdressing manual of the 1930s, is an early example of cyberpoetics. (This is just a slice of life cut through a particular publication, of course.) One of the first poems from Allen Fisher’s Gravity project, ‘African Twist’, appeared too, parts of which Fisher read to slides of his own paintings at Sub Voicive.

‘Allen Fisher is ... prolific and extraordinary,’ Clarke and I wrote of our second chosen poet, adding that the ‘extensive project called GRAVITY AS A CONSEQUENCE OF SHAPE ... has been of some importance to a number of writers reaching maturity in the mid 80s.’ Our introduction pointed to one differentiation with British Poetry Revival work, made visible in the shift in Fisher’s poetry and poetics, from the notional poetry of place to the creative linkages of the Gravity as a Consequence of Shape project. The appearance of this project

both confirmed and accelerated a shift away from ideals prevalent in the 60s and 70s in favour of approaches that attend more closely to the paving slabs than to ‘open field’ poetics ... and the ... deadening ... obsession with ‘place’.

Clarke and I affirmed a Lyotardian postmodern poetics, with its ‘willingness to deal with the materials that are readily to hand or impose themselves in the act of writing’. Fisher’s interview-essay Necessary Business is crucial in its attempt to articulate a poetics of a new pertinence that emphasizes activating readers through habit-breaking unpredictability and plurivocal structures. It was the best example of the theorizing discourse that Adair had demanded:

Allen Fisher calls attention to art as ‘necessary business’.... Cutting across formations categorized as discrete, ‘discontinuity’ is so only if it makes other relations; or else it is mimesis of actual informational chaos.

The work of Adair and Edwards in Floating Capital may be contrasted in terms of technique. In Edwards’ texts from Drumming and Poems (1982), a collection which prefigures many of the developments of the 1980s, ‘Notation and narrative are combined with experiments with chance procedures, phrasal permutations ... sudden changes of direction ... [they] produce a ... disrupted, unsettled poetic surface’. The effects of creative linkage, achieved through collage techniques, such as cut up, are surreal.

2 pints of lager
was laughing in your sleep,
flutes of your bones
picking the ball out of the back of the net,

introduces us to the dream-world of the ‘down & out’ who addresses ‘the Daily Mail lady’ on the ‘Poster, Walworth Rd, winter ’80’ of its title: ‘In autumn you bathe in oatmeal’.

Adair is more theoretical in his text Hot Licks (1987), more likely to court informational chaos in the service of his analysis, to both ape and contest the social reality, to create discontinuity so that new connections may be made in its creative linkage. Yet what is striking is the same political anger; the reader, too, is out on the streets, courting the sinister hidden order amongst the social discontinuities:

it’s a bus queue
too drunk to form up
chamber of tongue
eyes hold from holes hold
held by a fury body-lens
militarisation of entire culture
joy of plague reasons mob interior
de-educate contain the unoccupiable for use
police the wastes

Paul Virilio waits for the night bus, it seems, as the mob internalizes its own repression, as hopelessly as the down and out peering at a society that attempts to totalize control insidiously through its billboards. These poems, in different ways, replicate the constrained paranoia of the left during the Thatcher years, as well as demonstrating the technical resources of London’s Linguistically Innovative Poetry of those years.

Page 469