July 09, 2005

King’s Cross suffering

“Northerner, this is your stop.” The immortal first line from Simon Armitage’s King’s Cross poem published in the Independent newspaper London Voices special reflecting on “an extraordinary week in the life of an extraordinary city”. The poem is one of Armitage’s more banal list descriptions which I forced myself to read. Given the scale of the subject, I wondered whether he had the capacity to rise the occasion. No chance. Much in the ‘spirit’ of “The Universal Home Doctor” poems, it falls into the strange disconnection from real experience. In that book, he torpidly rose to the challenge of DIY and gardening, giving the strong impression that he had run out of things to write about and, as a poet with limited innovatory language resources, moved onto novel writing. I am not saying that the poet would have to have been in the underground when the bomb went off to write but there continues to be inauthentic distance in his writing, which I think becomes particularly inappropriate with this subject matter.

“Or maybe,
Just maybe, you live. Here’s you on the News,
Shirtless, minus a limb, exiting smoke
to a backdrop of red melt…”

is a sequence of lines opening with maybe, just maybe, a fairy tale intonation as suitable for a whether Santa Claus is involved, with the absence of a limb a banal tmesis.

A found poem on the same page of the newspaper:

Faith under fire

This fella helped me

choose my new kitchen

A new blitz - a

new world view

sale now on

bombings in London?

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