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Angela Gardner - Views of the Hudson

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Angela Gardner - Views of the Hudson

Paperback, 80pp, 8.5x5.5ins

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Before I started writing Views of the Hudson I had been thinking about the intoxication and dangers of believing in Promised Lands. This probably stems from my experience as a migrant who constantly explores ideas of belonging and displacement. These ideas then led me to think about the discovery of America and about how it had been described as a New World Utopia. Later I read the King James Bible version of the Psalms — a text whose translation was contemporary with the settlement of America and whose longing for the promised land express these same themes. Then on a Churchill Fellowship visit to New York City in 2008, I was able to wander, day and night, the Avenues, the grubby back streets and to ride on subways and buses taking it all in. When I started writing I realized that what I wanted to recreate in poetry was the flood of images that results from living in an overcrowded information-rich city.


Reading a text contemporaneous with the discovery of the Americas, such as the King James Bible, gave Views of the Hudson a very human first person voice of wonder, longing and despair. But its subject came from my immediate and personal view of the city as an outsider witnessing its layered reality. For a long time the work stayed in exactly the same order in which it was written but at some point that felt restrictive and by rearranging the poems I was able to create a narrative that reflected a move from alienation to acceptance while retaining the original idea of Utopias, Distopias and the fragile notion of belonging. During this time the form of the poem also developed from notes to a series of modern sonnets that have been deliberately levered open. Above all I wanted to write a narrative that could speak of the city as it is now and of our complicated entwined existence that is richer for being at once both sacred and profane.

 

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