I’m pleased to say my long poem ‘The Area: thinking with the photographs of Tricia Porter, Liverpool 8: 1972-74’ has been published in the excellent Long Poem Magazine, issue number 30. Yes, 30!
How did this poem come to be? Well, in 2015 the Bluecoat arts centre in Liverpool mounted an exhibition (and, importantly for the writing of the poems, published a catalogue) of the 1970s photographs Tricia Porter made of ‘the area’ called then Liverpool 8, later Toxteth. (Now part of it glories under the name the ‘Georgian Quarter’, newly re-developed, but not beyond recognition.)
Tricia's website has more images, and may be found here. Tricia Porter Photography (porterfolio.com)
I have recently contacted her and discussed her work. Perhaps more on this blog about that, one day.
As Liverpool unlocked after Covid I returned to the photographs (and the place; some of the images adorned the newly decorated walls of the Belvedere pub I frequent, reminding me of them; I used to have a poem on the wall in an earlier decoration of the pub: Pages: Chris McCabe and Robert Sheppard poems in the Belvedere, Liverpool!). I was haunted by the richness and deprivations of life in the photographs, a life I didn’t experience at the time (though many of my Liverpool friends in the loose grouping, the 1955 Committee, had! See here: Pages: The 1955 Committee (and others) 2022 (robertsheppard.blogspot.com)).
to ‘write through’ the images, including this one above, and then edit some of the results into the
unpunctuated couplets that you may read in the Long Poem Magazine. The emphatic
capital letters starting each line might be thought of as a counterpointed mode
of punctuation, certainly a guide to rhythmic utterance (or ‘stutterance’ one
could even say).
subtle dialectic between
glass and finely engraved
the counters of the Belvedere she sits
On a stool
in white slacks
an arm around he
his lit cigarette onto the tip of hers
I have a
love-hate relationship with so called ekphrastic writing (see here: Pages:
Robert Sheppard: Talk for the Open Eye Gallery on Poetry and Photography
December 2016) and was determined that no section of the poem would relate
completely to a single image: I was imagining collaging the images in the same
way I was collaging the words, ‘thinking with’ rather than looking at.
the poem by buying the magazine here: ISSUE 30 – Long
writers included in this issue (and at least four are associated with Liverpool as well!) are:
Helen Tookey A Choice of Paths
Peter Robinson Le Suquet Revisited
Tales of the Old Pacific
Samoilovich tr Terence Dooley Awaking Demons
Concerning the Ukraine War
Scenes from Out West
How to Howl
The Modern Long Poem and Feminist Projects
a seiche a
dear derek jarman
My Mother’s Ashes
book of lullabies
Happy and Fortunate
Running Out of Time