The snow falls thickly,a strong wind moves the white-fronted geese flying south,grey wings out of cold,calling in half song,half bark.
An early moon, knife-edged,shining indiscriminately,cuts light on anyone.
The train takes me north, scooping into the cold air, sharp and clear,where there is no sound, not one - the fields unravelling,the trees running backwardsin my wake,behind.
From The Drier The Brighter (Cinnamon, 2007)
Like many of the poems in The Drier The Brighter, '-wards'
plays around with the graphic surface of the poem, in particular the
font and punctuation. The more extreme experiments with punctuation and
use of space elsewhere in the collection are here more muted and mainly
appear in the title which is in italics and begins with a hyphen. These
typographical choices highlight the transitory state of the voice and
content of the poem - left hanging, neither 'to-wards' or 'back-wards',
but in transit, like the voice in the poem, disorientated, not knowing
which way is forward or backward. Is the speaker moving forward or are
the fields outside the train running backwards?
The poem also
owes a debt to Chinese parallelism. Each idea is repeated, often in
successive lines, and sometimes in the same line. 'The snow falls
thickly' (l.1) refers to winter weather, movement, and extremity. This
is followed by a parallel line containing three more indications of
winter weather (wind), movement (moves) and extremity (strong). This use
of parallelism also reinforces the idea of movement as lack of movement
- being caught in movement, and not in arrival.
Judy Kendall is a poet and translator whose recent poetry collection The Drier The Brighter
came out with Cinnamon Press in 2007. She has spent several years
teaching in Japan and Africa but now works as a lecturer in Creative
Writing and English at Salford University.
is a young, fast-growing small press based in North Wales and
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