Paul Farley’s new collection ‘The dark film’ has arrived. I hope I will be able to thank Mr Farley personally one day for getting me seriously into poetry. Despite a lifelong love of books and song lyrics, I read little poetry until 2002, and most of that had been written years before. Somehow I managed to miss whole generations of British poets. I’ve been trying to catch up( and keep up!) ever since. What happened in 2002? I bought ‘ The Ice Age’ by Paul Farley and was immediately hooked.
Farley’s subject matter is so very British, so recognisable to someone of my generation (he is a year older than me). His work is formally skillful and thoughtful. It is neither boring nor showy, neither difficult nor lightweight,but engages and surprises. His subject is often history, personal history, (my history) and our collective urban enviromental history (see ‘Civic’ ‘Brutalist’ and ‘Automatic Doors’ from ‘Tramp in Flames’). He uses details that I recognise.
I’ve posted ‘The Power’ from Farley’s new collection on my Favourite poems page. This poem ends by stepping outside of carefully constructed frame; by this I mean the poem reaches out and makes the reader complicit, aware of him/herself as a reader. Farley does something similar in ‘Dead Fish’ from ‘The Ice Age’ which you can also find on the Favourites page.
‘The Power’ is not only a portrait of our fabulously decayed British seaside but, in typically philosophical twist, looks at itself and takes the reader ‘behind the scenes’, ending with a brilliantly egalitarian power-sharing gesture.
This poem is a celebration of poetry that had me grinning.