It was a privilege to read this week at the Barbican Library last Wednesday, October 23rd, as part of the launch of Long Poem Magazine Issue 10, and I offer me sincerest gratitude to the editors, Linda Black and Lucy Hamilton for agreeing to publish my new long poem ‘Kernel Stone’ in this issue.
Rossetti’s Goblin Market, situated firmly in the long poem canon, is the stating place for my poem ‘Kernel Stone.’ Rossetti’s text, celebrated for its frantic Bacchanalianism, seems to suggest language’s eroticism, its physicality; for example, “streaked her neck which quaked like curd” is not only suggestive in its reference to a ‘streaked’ and sexualized body, but also presents an acrobatic tension between sibilants (‘s’) and voiceless velars (‘k’). This is a poem to be mouthed.
Goblin Market’s phonemic patterning is the element I have chosen to isolate and develop via a ‘writing-through’ process. Put simply, Rossetti’s text was ripped, placed in a bag, shaken, and ‘copied consciously’ as Tzara might once have done– except that I had every intention of disrupting the wholeness of the word. From this process, I created a formalist sketch of the work, its bare sounds as material to be elaborated, neologism to be found.
This process is also a form of redaction in its removal of grammatical endings, prepositions, and articles from the original; the superfluous. As such, the sections of ‘Kernel Stone’ which directly quote Rossetti are visually redacted thus:
It is remarkable that the process of ripping by chance not only preserved, but emphasised these anaphoric repetitions, and so I have preserved them in my poem.
In choosing this particular iconic text as ‘found material’, I hope to ask the questions: what is a contemporary long poem and what possibilities await its future?
Here is an excerpt from the opening of the poem:
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