Review - "The Weight of the World" by Rupert M Loydell

Steve Spence

“The Weight of the World” by Rupert M. Loydell, pub. Analogue Flashbook Books, 23 pp

“I put my writing hat on / and sit out in the garden / thought I’d done / with all this nonsense / but now I must interact / with the same story: / an androgynous angel / is stunned and frightened / as he enters the room.” Here the author is, I imagine, talking to himself, perhaps out loud. Is it writing he is thinking about or visual art or his ongoing engagement within the secular and the spiritual? All three I suspect. Given his own practice as both writer and painter and the fact that there is a multitude of art history attached to the theme of The Annunciation it is perhaps slightly surprising that Loydell has continued with this project (much explored in recent books) via another visual artist, the ‘self-styled collager of hats’ Gertaud Platschek, but he has. This work has a jauntiness and playful aspect always available in Loydell’s work but perhaps more explicity so in his early material. I’ve not come across Platschek’s work prior to this and the connections seem a bit tenuous but it’s fun to read and there is always a serious side to Loydell’s writing which comes through the entertainment aspect.

 

               .

 

               Four hats

               pinned to the wall;

               four in the dressing up box:

               photoshop opportunity

 

               Windows on all sides

               cantilever construction

 

               .

 

               colander

               pomander

               coffee grinder

               strainer

               netting

 

 

               Collaged the weight of the world

               onto herself

    

               .

 

If this is essentially a fun project there are also sections where the author appears to be debating the issues with himself, where a ‘post post post modernist’ mind is playing devil’s advocate, so to speak, as in a series of q. and a. lines where we get, for example: ‘What is the annunciation? / An anachronism within / popular theology and culture. ‘What is the annunciation?/ A depiction of space dramatizing difference. What is the annunciation? / Narrative time outside time, / temporal order frustrated.’ This reminds me of a recent episode of Universe, where Brian Cox, talking about black holes says “Don’t worry if you don’t understand what I’m talking about because I don’t understand what I’m talking about either.’ However we attempt to deal with ‘the big issues’ there’s an element of the esoteric and mind-bending and language probably isn’t up to the task though it’s all we’ve got. Perhaps this is where poetry comes into its own. Next week apparently Professor Cox is going to fully explain the origins of the Universe. Somehow I think not but I digress.

 

               Let us focus on headwear. What the best dressed woman is

               wearing. In the  foreground, standing  in a blue dress with a

               red  shawl, there  is a young  woman  on  the cusp of an im-

               portant moment in her life, yet she has no hat.

 

There is much talk of angels and a mixing of a modern idiom within the traditional storytelling (how could it be otherwise?) and there are teasing questions which are as much creative wandering as an attempt to get to the heart of things. This is quite an ambitious project that Loydell has undertaken and a lightness of touch is obviously a prerequisite. Here we have the penultimate paragraph:

 

               More of a therapy session

               than an annunciation.

               Perhaps an unannunciation,                

               perhaps more of a discussion

               about the idea of a pregnancy

               and starting her own cult.

               The angel seems to be quoting

               from the text he holds,

               Mary has put aside her

               coffee-table picture book

               and is concentrating on

               keeping a straight back.

 

I found these musings and meandering entertaining and occasionally thought-provoking and I’m wondering where Rupert Loydell is heading next. The hats are certainly worth looking up as they are strange and spectacular.

 

 

Copyright © Steve Spence, 2021