Poetry Centre

Weekly Poem for 21 September 2015

  • The Rolling Stones


    An unrestrainable storm’s energy,
    a blues tornado building year by year,
    smashing successive decades like stage-props
    into a singular reality –

    the music’s drive, and how Keith Richards loads
    that power-line with such a laid-back style
    he might be anywhere the drug dictates;
    and now in high key the dervish explodes

    frenetically, adopting a persona
    for each volatile lyric expression,
    a manically improvised Lucifer,
    a lashingly exploitative ‘Gimme Shelter’,

    a transsexual identity which dares
    contain a crowd that’s like an exodus
    come across country for the new ideal,
    and with the red light on, it really scares.

    Jagger’s psychopathic ‘Midnight Rambler’,
    cued up to stick a knife right through the throat,
    a pyrotechnical ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’,
    no ostentation from the bass-player,

    it’s all up front by a shared microphone,
    and what was revolutionary is still
    an ongoing assessment of our lives,
    survival, altered consciousness, a tone

    that challenges the way we live and think,
    and devastates the old world, moves into
    the centre of new chaos, while the pack
    flail for the singer on the spotlit brink...

    by Jeremy Reed


    Some local poetry news: Mimi Khalvati, Giles Goodland, and the winners and commended poets in the 2015 Four Corners Poetry Competition will be reading in the Common Room, St Cross College, Oxford on Tuesday 13 October, 2015. The event will open at 5.30pm, with readings from 6-7pm. To attend, contact Ella Bedrock: ella.bedrock@stx.ox.ac.uk

    ‘The Rolling Stones’ is copyright © Jeremy Reed, 2015. It is reprinted from Voodoo Excess (Enitharmon Press, 2015) by permission of Enitharmon Press

    Notes from Enitharmon Press:

    In Voodoo Excess, Jeremy Reed charts in poetry and prose the astonishing career of the Rolling Stones from the band’s early days in 1962 to the 50th anniversary tour in 2012 and its extension in 2013. With great originality he examines why the Stones have been a musical and cultural phenomenon, and everything public and mythical, anecdotal and apocryphal about the larger-than-life individual band members. You can read more about the book on the Enitharmon website.

    Called by the Independent ‘British poetry’s glam, spangly, shape-shifting answer to David Bowie’, Jeremy Reed’s poetry, fiction and performances are inimitable and utterly opposed to grey mainstream poetry. He has published over 40 books of poetry, fiction and non-fiction. He has received numerous awards work has been translated abroad in numerous editions and more than a dozen languages. He is widely acknowledged as the most imaginatively gifted British poet of his generation. His Selected Poems were published by Penguin in 1987. You can watch Reed performing with The Ginger Light in his poem ‘Kit Marlowe’ here.

    ‘William Blake dreamed up the original Enitharmon as one of his inspiriting, good, female daemons, and his own spirit as a poet-artist, printer-publisher still lives in the press which bears the name of his creation. Enitharmon is a rare and wonderful phenomenon, a press where books are shaped into artefacts of lovely handiwork as well as communicators of words and worlds. The writers and the artists published here over the last forty-five years represent a truly historic gathering of individuals with an original vision and an original voice, but the energy is not retrospective: it is growing and new ideas enrich the list year by year. Like an ecologist who manages to restock the meadows with a nearly vanished species of wild flower or brings a rare pair of birds back to found a colony, this publisher has dedicatedly and brilliantly made a success of that sharply endangered species, the independent press.’ (Marina Warner.)  

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