Black, Linda

Linda Black - Inventory

£9.95

Linda Black - Inventory

Paperback, 102pp, 8.5x5.5ins

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Some years ago, when my sons were younger, I took them to a workshop at Tate Britain. We each made and painted a small box and mine became a house—a kind of generic house, a house of all houses. Several years later, wanting something to write about in my morning pages, my eyes landed on the 'house' on a high shelf. I had already thought of making an inventory of my home—the history and origins of the contents, and so the two ideas came together.   Inventory has no fixed narrative. It is as fragmented and (seemingly) arbitrary as memory. An inventory is an attempt to impose order, to contain, to control, but of course the past as tainted by memory can't be clearly laid out. The poems in Inventory illustrate obsession, ritual, self-interrogation (the "I/she" being not necessarily the same throughout); a mind enacting trauma. Through description, adherence to detail, the literal truth of appearance, an attempt is made to confront reality as though it can be momentarily pinned down. This is a confused reality — however accurate (and it may not be) the description itself doesn't — and can't—explain what happened in the past. Nothing is explicit. Proof does not exist. Inventory is divided into five sections, serving both to uphold and to subvert the central theme. Order confounds, laying down clues that deny answers. As a visual artist (and art teacher) my process was to begin without a preconceived idea—to approach a blank sheet, or etching plate, by merely making a mark, with as it were a blank mind, to delight in the not knowing, the exploration, the opening up of possibilities. In this, I had complete faith, the unconscious process soon becoming conscious, the trick being to remain open, not to censor, and always, always to approach the project with care and precision — through the detail to discover the whole—though it wasn't always easy to know when a picture was completed. There are analogies here to my writing process, in the prose poem particularly. I like how the form allows for an ending that isn't an ending—I  don't believe in the idea of closure; as in etching I'd want an image, fine detail, but also degrees of dark or shade with less definition, something implied, unseen, reverberating in the shadows. Some of the poems in Inventory relate to my visual art, either directly or indirectly, and usually I do know when to stop. —Linda Black

 

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