Saturday, September 19, 2009

Simon Armitage, Kid

Armitage seemed like a "hot item" when I picked up this collection, Kid, at one of our local Half Price Books for... a dollar.

Yup. A buck. You'd think they'd wring a little more blood from the stone of the next big thing, wouldn't you?!?

But there it was, and Armitage -- who isn't so new -- seemed to be popping up into my consciousness with some regularity. Readings in Stevens Point (??) sponsored by public radio, recent books popping out on the shelves of Barnes & Noble... Who knows why for sure. But there he was. Again. And for a dollar? I'll bite. And buy.

And was so disappointed. Not sure if I just hadn't built up any momentum with the collection. But I read in widely separated fits and starts (and wasn't moved to engage with anything more). I labored. And I stalled. About halfway through. Prepared myself to push through the last half and read, after two weeks? Three? This...
The book, this page, this harebell laid to rest
between these sheets, these leaves, if pressed still bleeds
a watercolour of the way we were.

Those years: the fuss of such and such a day,
that disagreement and its final word,
your inventory of names and dates and times,
my infantries of tall, dark handsome lies.

A decade on, now we astound ourselves;
still two, still twinned but doubled now with love
and for a single night apart, alone,
how sure we are, each of the other half.

This harebell holds its own. Let's give it now
in air, with light, the chance to fade, to fold.
Here, take it from my hand. Now, let it go.
"In Our Tenth Year" (46)

Nothing quite rises to it, though "Great Sporting Moments: The Treble" comes close, and the opening couplet is a delight: "The rich! I love them. Trust them to suppose / the gift of tennis is deep in their bones" (55).

The BBC has a wonderful poetry site (the fact that they have their Poetry Season is wonder enough) which has quite a nice write-up on Armitage -- and him reading his poem "Gawain" (which those of us on this side of the pond are not allowed to listen to apparently). Too bad; might have drawn me into another collection of his. Might still, but...

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