Simon Perril

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About the author

Simon Perril was born in 1968 and lives in Oakham, Rutland. His poetry collections include Nitrate (Salt) and A Clutch of Odes (Oystercatcher Press). He has written widely on contemporary poetry and poetics, and edited The Salt Companion to John James (Salt). He teaches at De Montfort University, Leicester, and loves silent movies, and noisy music. And cats.

"My poetry roots go back to discovering the New American Poetry of the 50s and 60s and the "British Poetry Revival" of the 60s and 70s pretty much simultaneously, thanks to local book dealers in Cambridge, and the alternative academy that was Compendium bookshop in Camden, London. Reading the work of Iain Sinclair and Tom Raworth was particularly influential early on, and it didn't take long to find other contemporary 'linguistically innovative' poets as a student at Cambridge College of Art and Technology (now Anglia Ruskin University). I always knew I wanted to write poetry, but it took a while to find that all-important contemporary pulse, and I only started writing in earnest when I left Cambridge and spent a couple of years in Leeds as a postgrad. San Francisco poet Jack Spicer was particularly important in these years because of his assertion that poems can't exist in isolation, but instead should echo and re-echo in relation to each other—this commitment to the sequence, and to 'composition by book', has stayed with me. I went back to the fens to do a PhD in Contemporary poetry at Cambridge University with Rod Mengham, who had just started the excellent Equipage chapbook series—it was truly exciting to have this steady flow of amazing poetry publications regularly hit the streets.

Sound has always been a major stimulus — Musique concrète, Free Jazz, Industrial, Japanoise; Drone, Doom and Black metals: everything with sonic texture. This interest in sound textures is certainly a preoccupation in my poetry, from the pun (over)driven work gathered in my Hearing first full length book, to the recent Clutch of Odes. To write in a way that captures the sonic excitement of distorted notes splitting into colour and overtones fascinates me — but I want the poetry to be musical in its own right, rather than to just replicate and allude to musical procedures.

My previous poetic project, Nitrate, fed on my childhood obsession with early cinema, and the emergence of the horror film. Since I was a kid I've been fascinated by film stills, and a few years back I started making collages. Poems followed. I was particularly enamoured — still am — with the French film director Chris Marker. Marker's films are transgeneric; and they've been described as cinematic essays — and so the idea of Nitrate forming 'an essay on cinema' is really a nod to one of my heroes. Marker is most famous for his short film La Jettée that is remarkable for being made up almost entirely from still images with voice-over. Nitrate is in 3 interrelated sections; and it's a book that's fascinated by the slow thaw of instant photography and the birth of the moving picture. A key figure in Nitrate is the French physiologist E.J.Marey whose experiments in understanding motion extended to the taking of serial 'Chronophotographs' that inadvertently contributed to the birth of cinema. You can see my collages, and a short audio-visual 'film' — Nitrate: Director's Cut — at www.simonperril.com."

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