Peter Dent: Handmade Equations
Published January 2005
Paperback, 100pp, 8.5x5.5ins, £8.95 / $15
A collection of over eighty poems written since the beginning of the new century, this book showcases Peter Dent's remarkable investigations into the possibilities of the modern lyric and the possibilities of language.
"These poems strike me as personal poems that, instead of the usual look-at-me of personal poems, reflect back at the reader and say look for yourself. An individual interpretation seems to be the only response available. Any notion of trying to get at what personal things prompted the poems seems at the same time futile and unnecessary. The poems therefore become remarkably empowering objects. They become your own, and Peter Dent can ride off into the distance with them, and you can ride off with them in the opposite direction, and the poems are yours and his. Perhaps this happens with lots of poems. I'm not sure I've ever thought about it in quite this way, in so many words, but I'm tempted to think it's worth thinking about. So, do we come back after all to how these poems mean whatever the hell you want them to mean? That's a pretty low way of putting it, and suggests the wanton obscurity of modern poetry and its attendant laziness which its detractors have been known to allege. It's not the way I'd put it. I'd go for how these poems ask us to read and attend and think. They are about, if “about” is the correct word, how we are, in a world of thought and things. That seems so bland, put like that, as to be almost wholly meaningless. Perception and experience may be better words, but I'm starting to think a crash course in philosophy might be on the cards. Dent is engaged in a tremendous attempt to place thought and the world on to the page, but it's far from being a didactic project. The reader is asked, rather, to engage with the poems and join in the attempt. He or she has to do a great deal of work – sometimes, to be honest, simply to get a handle on a few lines. But when you have a hold of that metaphorical handle, even if it's only briefly, it's singularly interesting. I only wish I could describe it. No way are these poems for that unlikely animal, the general poetry reader who, perhaps, would prefer a recognisable subject matter and some kind of narrative resolution. But there's lots of other places that reader can go. The poems are a challenge. As challenges go, I think this one is worth taking up, but you have to want to be there." (Martin Stannard)
Download a sampler PDF of work from this book here
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