Thursday, 7 March 2013

The Dark Film by Paul Farley: Picador

The Dark Film by Paul Farley: Picador
The poem I was attracted to in an immediate way was Moles. At first I didn't know why this was, but then I realised that it is because it seems to me to be at the emotional core of the collection. It is also the saddest poem in a collection of poems that are not sad but full of a vivid, dynamic energy. This leads me to wonder whether I read poetry in this way to be moved by it - which may be a limited way of reading.  But certainly what I want from it is intensity & reading this full collection was an intense experience, though at first reading the poems did not seem to be directed at or about the emotions, but at waking up the eye - the capacity to see which is depicted as a kind of power:
Forget all that end-of-the-pier/palm-reading stuff.  Picture a seaside town in your head. The Power
The energy of these poems seems to come from their rapidly shifting perspectives:  what the eyeball might clock/if shot from a cannon, Digital
or: How many other kids would turn/themselves into a camera/replete with scrims and gels and tints/to see the world in new colours? Quality Street.
 This is what I suddenly realised I was being asked to do - not at first reading, but after I'd put the book down.  These shifting perspectives that see 'a thousand shades/ cast by the washing on the lines' 'every night the moon would find/more chinks in the leaves as it moved across the sky' 'a downpour on warm flagstones raising the ghosts of our childhoods' or 'the golf course pond where all ages collided' alter time as well as space, with a technical dexterity that generates a great momentum.  These poems carry a powerful awareness of a lost past while rejecting nostalgia in favour of the wider context; the 'something else' that is 'happening/altogether vast and slow, Creep, 'The millions of mixed shades/are still running beneath our surfaces/and visible to those who just step sideways/anywhere:
This is from the terrific long poem Cloaca Maxima, which encapsulates many of the themes running through this collection.
Moles is, however the poem I will give my particular reading to - not simply because it is short, but because it is about a literal and metaphorical blindness: he looked back to find/more emptiness than he thought this earth/could hold. In this version of the myth we leave him there/helpless and blind
It seems to me to highlight all the other themes by contrast, being about the tragedy of the trapped or limited eye.  When I put the book down a second time I felt the full emotional impact of things that are lost, or caught up in a process of transformation, and for the unused capacity of the eye.