Lee Harwood's _Morning Light_ is now available from Slow Dancer, 59
Parliament Hill London NW3 2TB - 72pp, GBP6.99, ISBN 1 871033 41 1.
His first collection since _In The Mists_ (Slow Dancer 1993) and to my
mind his best for some time.
There are some developments here - a wider range of tone, and more cutting
between public/private - big world/little world in a way which seems more
sharply focussed now - less freely drifting, more deliberate. Harwood has
never left the fragmentary, partial-narrative techniques which were
present in his books of thirty years ago, and his status as "innovative" -
to those to whom it matters - must be up for scrutiny next time the
innovation inspectors come round. I'd say he still gets in - above all,
his work still _surprises_ in its conjunctions and disjunctions, and the
paths he takes come across as fresh, discovered.
There's enough autobiography here to set the objectivity meters on
permanent red too, if that's a problem (I suspect that those for whom it
is a problem will have stopped reading Harwood years ago, which is their
loss): not the searing hear-me-I'm-suffering of the Book of Demons
(Harwood came closest to this in _In The Mists_ with its poems about the
death of Paul Evans - see "On The Ledge" in _A State Of Independance_) but
a huge openness - a willingness to splice the personal and public "events"
together. The elegy for Paul Evans - "In The Mountains" - is a sumation of
that process, perhaps.
There are a few longish sequence in the collection - including "Dreams of
Armenia" (collage on the armenian genocide), "Day and Nights: Accidental
Sightings : a bundle of 50 sticks for Joseph Cornell and others" and "The
Songs Of Those Who Are On The Sea Of Glass" (hospital poems after a
collapse) - which make for difficult quoting-from - so I'll fall back on a
short summery bit, Harwood at his most open:
GORGEOUS - YET ANOTHER BRIGHTON POEM
The summer's here.
Down to the beach
to swim and lounge and swim again.
Gorgeous bodies young and old.
Me too. Just gorgeous. Just feeling good
and happy and so at ease with the world.
And come early evening a red sun setting,
the sea all silky,
small gentle surges along its near still surface.
the new moon hung over the sea,
a stippled band of gold across the black water,
I walk home.
The air so soft and warm,
like fur brushing my body.
The dictionary says
"gorgeous - adorned with rich and brilliant colours,
sumptuously splendid, showy, magnificent, dazzling."