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Aidan Semmens - Uncertain Measures

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Aidan Semmens - Uncertain Measures

Published 2014. Paperback, 92pp, 8.5x5.5ins
ISBN 978-1-84861-351-5 [Download s ample PDF from this volume here.]
 
‘A Ritual Landscape’ sets out Aidan Semmens’ stall from the start of this, his third full-length collection. These are poems that ‘have legs’—that continue the journey outward begun in A Stone Dog and The Book of Isaac, and elaborate the argument and project of one of our most ambitious and accomplished poets. What runs through this book, like Brighton rock, is a traditional, yet questioning, and taut lyricism, a poetry of argument in the voice of smouldering outrage. The voice of these poems inhabits the place of post-industrial landscape in a way not as effectively revisited and examined since the poetry of Roy Fisher in, ‘a place of gathering /an enclosure of power and spirit,’ in a ‘slow recovery of knowledge’. This is a book without nostalgia, but uses the findings of the past to look forward, clear-eyed­—‘the future may always be terrible’. This is a book that reports on recent findings: the poems reveal themselves as envelopes containing the truth on one side and contingency to the other side of the report, whether it be the ‘morning they tested Galileo’ in the desert more than 60 years ago, or the complex, vexed revelations of Edward Snowden: ‘the document is redacted / which does not reveal but conceals / the identities of those presumed guilty’. These poems hold objects, history, aesthetics and beauty in a ring of present experience: ‘we may not believe in Greek gods / but everywhere see their powers at work’. In this centenary year of the greatest, cataclysmic event of our time, this is the book for 2014, reporting back on the long view, post-Empire, post-nuclear, post-industrial, post-Modern. 
—­Simon Smith
 
 
 
 

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