Skip to main content

Review - "Silo" by Andrew Taylor

Alan Baker

"Silo" by Andrew Taylor, pub Red Ceilings, 43pp.

In 2018 Red Ceilings published Andrew Taylor's sequence "Aire", a series of haiku-inspired pieces centred around his house in rural France; moments of stillness and observation captured in spare language that also included the numerical Pantone colour codes to describe objects, thus foregrounding the textual and linguistic nature of the observations.

"Silo" builds on the work in "Aire" but is quite different; the pieces are denser and the tone more intense. But there is still a meditative atmosphere. Here's an example:

     The sheep are up clear ivy reveal
     the render it's still hat wearing
     weather the slope intact gathered
     piles of fallen branches like markers
     in low cloud olive in colour aside
     from very pale blue 538 CP lighting
     and angles deceive orange of tile a
     firm breaker a small shelter.

A single sentence, no punctuation, descriptions piling up and the witty use of the Pantone  code to describe the colour, yet the overall impression is one of calm and centredness. After reading a number of these pieces in succession, the run-on sentences can sometimes cause the words to be abstracted from the text, as the verb 'reveal' is in the passage above, appearing momentarily to have 'ivy' as its subject, whereas it's the poem's narrator who is doing the revealing.

"Silo" is vivid and concrete throughout with zero 'poetic' language. There is immediate perception and close observation, but the poems are aware of themselves as language and text. Towards the end the pieces take on an almost celebratory tone, but are restrained by the focus on concrete particulars which prevents them becoming portentous, as in:

     Gain interest in the rawness of reality
     the singing that rises above distant
     machinery hum those songs that
     capture the sense of human fate
     presence & absence light &  mass it
     continues as the brewing stops with
     kitchen baking aromas the
     instantaneous of recognition

The nightingale, a bird more easily found in rural France than in England, is one of the motifs in Taylor's recent poetry, and one poem describes its "alert song rich and fluty", a description in italics, suggesting it may have come from a book. Similarly, there are snatches of a sales brochure in another poem. But generally, this is not collaged or found text, rather descriptions of everyday events and sights with an awareness that the language used to describe them distances the viewer from them.

In this small booklet of forty short poems, Taylor is continuing his poetic project stemming from John Cage, from the minimalist strand of American poetics, from the notebook poems of Jack Kerouac and from contemporaries like Harriet Tarlo. The result, transposed to rural France, has a distinctive style which is all its own.

Copyright © Alan Baker, 2021

Popular posts from this blog

Review - High and Lonesome: Three Books: Crozier, Prynne, James

Andrew Duncan High and Lonesome : Three Books: John James, Striking the Pavilion of Zero, J.H. Prynne, High Pink on Chrome ; Andrew Crozier, High Zero (Shearsman, 2021; edited Ian Brinton)  The reason why these three books from 1975-6 and 1978 are being republished together is straightforward. Crozier had named a work High Zero , and when I interviewed him in 2003 he conceded that it referred to High Pink and Striking the Pavilion of Zero , and that he had used lines from those two works as keys to develop the High Zero poems from. Publication together allows one to read across and recover a part of the composition process. High Zero was published in 1978, later than the two poems it is a response to. The founding moment is The English Intelligencer , in which all three of these poets took part. This was an attempt to recapitulate the development of Charles Olson, up to about 1950; he was seen as both the continuator of Pound and as having thought profoundly about geography. T

Essay - Whatever Happened to the Poetry Manifesto?

MARTIN STANNARD WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE POETRY MANIFESTO? Recently I tried writing an essay that had the working title 'Why the Meaning of a Poem is the Last Thing You Should Think About'. I felt like I had something to say. It began like this: I can't help but remember what my old angling tutor used to say: “Be careful when you open a can of worms." Of course, he didn’t say any such thing, and I never had an angling tutor, but writers, and perhaps especially poets, can say anything and get away with it, because . . . Actually, I'm not sure why. I'm not even sure if it's true. If it is, it shouldn’t be. And I'm not sure about that, either. I think it's probably best if we accept a certain degree of uncertainty and subjectivity and other words that suggest everything is open to argument and get on with this. Just because something is open to argument doesn't mean it's wrong. Later (about 3000 words later) I decided I was on to a loser.

Review - "Bright Angel Proof" by Nick Power

Charlie Baylis Bright Angel Proof, Nick Power (£10, erbacce press) In the spring of 2016 a writer from the small Northwestern town of Hoylake, Nick Power, took a trip flying around America on budget airlines, soaking in all its big ticket tourist attractions and gaudy glories. The trip, and Power’s poems about the trip, come together to form Bright Angel Proof , a collection which evokes beat generation myths of a mystical America, but behind the lines Power knows that the beat generation era is done and perhaps was never really there to begin with. Power is too late to join the ranks of Ginsburg, Kerouac et al but at least he suggests that he might have something to say, which is more than most contemporary poets. Power attracts attention as a kind of modern Burt Lancaster, an adventurer of compelling (North) West Coast vibes and easy going company who, like Lana Del Rey, has ‘feathers in his hair...c hurning out novels like Beat poetry on Amphetamines.’ Power’s companion on the