I didn’t know the work of the poet Hubert Moore until a week ago and am delighted to have found it.
Hubert’s The Tree Line has recently been published by Shoestring Press and I am eagerly awaiting delivery, having just caught up on previous collections, Whistling Back (2012) and The Bright Gaze of the Disorientated (2014.)
The Tree Line is Hubert Moore’s ninth full collection of poems. He is also the author of a prize-winning Poetry Business Pamphlet, Beautifully Kept Things (2003). His experience of working as a writing mentor for refugee writers at Freedom from Torture informs his work, which has been described by David Constantine as ‘beautifully exact, full of cherishing and grief.’
I can’t improve on D. A. Prince’s description in this review
“Moore does not write fictions or fanciful inventions: the closeness and reality of what he hears and experiences is the source of his poetry. It is unfailingly human, moving the heart in its precise depiction of frailty and suffering but with enough of love to offer hope. He wears his considerable poetic skills lightly, keeping them subservient to the humanity that is central to his poetry even in the face of inhuman torture; there is a strong sense here of a poet drawing the whole world into his poems.”
The poem below is from Hubert Moore’s 2012 collection, ‘Whistling Back’ . The words in French translate as
“but I missed a lot of things in my life.”
Wide-eyed for Chamakh and wanting,
these two, one Arsenal-shirted,
the other Bordeaux, seem to be daunted
by nothing, not there ticketless journey
by train to London Station, not their
almost total lack of English or money,
not their exit from Africa under a lorry,
‘Mais je manqué,’ nurmurs the Arsenal shirt,
‘beacoup de choses dans ma vie.’
One of these things is parents.
Tickets to see the name is another,
the name on their shirts. All they want
is to see a goal by Chamakh,
before they’re caught, before they get sent back.
From ‘Whistling Back’ Shoestring Press, 2012
I also love this poem from ‘The Bright gaze of the Disoriented’
(Shoestring Press, 2014.) It reminds me a little of Raymond Carver’s ‘Happiness’, in that an ordinary, intimate moment is observed and shared. Unlike Carver’s poem, however, there is a sense that such moments of happiness do not just belong to childhood but can and do reoccur throughout ours lives. Apart from the effortless skill of the writing, it is in recording and celebrating such a simple moment of human affinity, connection and interdependence, that makes Moore’s poem one of the many gems to be found in his collections.
You might be lucky. You might
be on the 17.24 from Waterloo
to Charing Cross and happen
to be glancing left precisely when
a gap between two buildings
rumbles past with two hard-hatted
men in it, also a mixer
which has finished mixing, a
crusted wheel-barrow and spades.
This can’t be willed of course.
It’s pure luck if, as you pass,
it happens one hard-hatted man
is at that moment hosing
clean the other’s wellington
boots. Don’t miss the care he gives,
the way he stoops and comes
in at an angle and the other
lets him do it, trusts him.
Trains come past any minute here
especially at rush hour, the time
for slowly stopping work. You
might be lucky if you took
the 17.21 or 17.28 and happened
to glance left and see the other,
in a gap of what seems happiness
between before and after
hosing the first one’s boots.