Archive for the 'Graham Plender' Category

fifty: Graham Plender, The Common Sharing

I found two of my last three collections in a small bookshop in the market town of Leominster, in Herefordshire (near where the previous week’s A Shropshire Lad was set), the week after Christmas. This one in particular was a lovely find: a poet local to the area, and the book itself printed in Leominster (although sadly it looks like the publisher no longer exists).

I was drawn to it for its beautiful cover and title, as well as its being local, and it was a really great find. Plender has a sharpness of vision and focus and a surprising, energetic way of putting things; I like this line, referring to his son’s umbilical cord, from ‘To Andrew’ –

The cord jiggered from your centre like a stopped fuse

There’s lots of stuff going on in each poem, along with a deep sense of human connection, and I enjoyed all the characters who popped up – Cicely Saunders and Elgar among others. I think this might be the first time I’ve read a whole collection in just one or two sittings – certainly it was within the space of a day.

Favourites were ‘To Andrew’, ‘After April’, ‘Helen Thomas Fears for Edward’, ‘New Year 2003’, ‘On Hay Tor’, ‘A Mariner’s Romance’, ‘Jubilee’ and ‘Plant-like’, which seemed a fitting post-Christmas/pre-New Year poem:

So there is plant in us too
below the animal –
a vegetative strain
for which sound, odour, vision
carry no value

and motion’s
an irrelevant dynamic.

Their part’s to grow
in a bright meaningless:
mute, earthed

to tap the soil for solutes,
draw on resilient waters.

We need our intervals
for lapsing plant-like –
not stir, devise
no programmes for advance.
Achieve stasis:
letting the pore-buds open,
feeling our roots push deep,
training our leaves to the sun.

The Common Sharing, Graham PlenderĀ (Raddle Bank House, 2006)