eighteen: Richard Price, Lucky Day

Hopefully the next few weeks will be a lot calmer than the last few, and I’ll be able to get back into the Sunday-evening routine…

Last week’s collection was from Richard Price, who I’d never come across before. He is apparently the youngest of the Informationist group of poets, and again I have to confess ignorance; but if wikipedia is to be believed, one of the movement’s main features is ‘engagement with the technological innovation, jargon and interconnectedness of the “information society”‘. The rather stop-start, sometimes repetitive style of the poems definitely had a sort of switched-on, connected feeling to it.

The collection is made up of eight sections, and my favourite was probably ‘Hand Held’, written for Katie, the poet’s daughter, who was born with the neurological disorder Angelman syndrome. Perhaps this is simply because I naturally gravitate towards a more personal style of poetry, but I found this section wrenchingly human, poignant, and shot through with a wry kind of humour.

Favourites were ‘A world without earth’, ‘Better trees’; ‘Hedge Sparrows’ and ‘Magpie’ from ‘A Spelthorne Bird List’; ‘Lucky day’, ‘As if’, and much of the section ‘Hand Held’, especially ‘Than we are’, ‘”Speech absent”‘, ‘The grip’, ‘The taps just flow hot and cold’, ‘Sleeper’, ‘Fast’ and this beautiful sonnet, ‘The world is busy, Katie’ –

The world is busy, Katie, and tonight
the planes are playing, fine, alright, but soon
the folk behind those blinks will nap, sleep tight,
as you will too, beneath a nitelite moon.
The world is busy, Katie, but it’s late –
the trains are packing up, the drunks are calm.
The fast, the slow, has gone. It’s only freight
that storms the garage lane. It means no harm.
The world is busy, Katie, but it’s dark –
the lorries nod, they snort, they spoil their chrome.
They hate to be alone. For them, a lay-by’s home.
The world is busy, Katie, like I said,
but you’re the world – and tired. It’s time for bed.

It’s such a tender poem, made all the more poignant by the fact that it’s a sonnet with a line missing. Is this a nod, I wonder towards Katie’s lacking the activation of vital genes?

Lucky Day, Richard Price (Carcanet, 2005)

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