The tradition from which I come insists that nothing is haphazard; that there’s no such thing as ‘co-incidence’.
How else, a mystic may muse, could they possibly include a piece about people falling ‘in to the sky’ just as news broke about the Malaysia Airlines disaster in which almost 300 people plunged from a height of 33,000 feet to their deaths deep in the Ukrainian countryside?
But part of the poet’s job is to make sense of the senseless and to reason with the inexplicable just as the task of the visual artist is to interpret it anew.
So what is not surprising is that the poem to which I allude recalls the work of the Russian-Jewish pioneering surrealist, Marc Chagall, whose major output was based on his Jewish background but who was laid to rest via a Christian burial accompanied by the Kaddish – the Jewish mourners’ prayer!
Before we look at the poem, I’ll explain that the book is the result of a two year project that began after a twinning arrangement with other poets in Cork, Ireland. Quite extraordinarily for people in a world that teems with artistic jealousies, the two refuse to say who penned which poem!
That aside, the blurb from their publisher, Pighog Press says the “anthology voices the experience of living in the rapidly changing urban landscape of 21st century Britain. The poems explore changing attitudes and identities attributed to immigration, conflict, loss, unemployment.
“The pages of the book loosely represent the house numbers of a street where people of different ages and different backgrounds co-exist … (and) the poems range across a timespan from an industrial Britain in the shadow of the Second World War through to the modern day”.
After Marc Chagall
“All the houses on our street are upside down
and people fly above the chimneys.
They are falling
in to the sky.
“They are not from here anyway.
Not one of them is from here anyway.
Who is from here anyway?
“They are from here everyway.
Every one of them is from here someway.
Where is from here anyway?
“All the streets near our house are downside up
and chimneys fly above the people.
They are sky
and they are flying”.
© Natalie Wood (27July 2014)