Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tony Lopez

I've just begun Tony Lopez's Data Shadow which I got a couple of years ago. Somehow, it slipped into some mysterious invisible zone on my bookshelf and I found it last night while looking for something else (a valuable stone*, if you want to know. I used the stone as a bookmark but have forgotten which book and now I can't find it. No doubt it will turn up).

I usually have no trouble skipping to elsewhere in a book of poetry; I come back to intended structures later. With this book, though, I intend to begin at the beginning - a Preface that is dense and requires time - and go on until I reach an end.**

But for the moment, here's a part of his poem, 'About Cambridge':

Tony Lopez

About Cambridge

About Cambridge they were never wrong
the old masters: for where they mostly lived
and wore their blazers out, happened to be
just beyond the cakeshop
where someone is always eating
opening a window or just cruising dully along
the great body of salty water
which is what one calls the protégé
one of those heavenly bodies that everyday
go by steering the fellowship through rapids
committees and quality audit
to a party taped on U-matic for ARDENT productions
a royal mirror of royalty
beyond the neatly-fenced perimeter
the folding tables and ice-buckets of summer
that is always happening elsewhere
as we poor shadows light up again
and move on


The rest of it here.


*What stone? This one:

**Data Shadow is the end, in a sense; it's the second half of an earlier collection - False Memory.


Falstaff said...

Sigh. Such a nice starting. So quickly squandered.

Oh, and on the off-chance that some of your readers may not be familiar with the original - here it is.

km said...

"intended structures"

Clarify please?

Falstaff: Is your brain always ready to connect any two random poems? Amazing.

blackmamba said...

@km, I think the man has a little Auden, a little cummings et al, twiddling their thumbs, inside his head, just waiting for someone to say something...anything about poetry :)

Space Bar said...

Falsie: And lots of annoying references to contemporary poets too.

km: By which I mean, the order in which the poet meant one to read the poems.

And this poem is so clearly a reference to the Auden - that's why I chose it!

bn: :D (be fair! it was an obvious connection to make and I bet you made it too.)

blackmamba said...

SB: yes, this one was obvious, I agree. but this isn't the first time we have seen this cross-referencing poetry librarian thing happen. :)

equivocal said...

Nice one. The last section is not just meant to be random references to contemporary poets, but all the various figures of the Cambridge scene, down to the youngest, Keston Sutherland, and indeed all of Lopez's friends. You'd have to understand this in the context of Auden's poem (and Breughel's Icarus), and Lopez's angle into it-- Cambridge as a kind of idyllic, protected oasis which shelters all these self-anointed radical poets (including Tony Lopez) from the harshness and suffering (also the wages of capitalism here) in the world, indeed a protected environment that allows them to be as radical as they want. In this context-- especially if you think of the poem as addressed to all the friends mentioned-- the last section is really quite intense, and tough, and self-examining too.

Space Bar said...

equivocal: As usual, thanks for that - I don't know anything about the Cambridge poets, though you and Cat have sometimes mentioned them in comments. It certainly clarifies all the name dropping (publishers too!) and provides a context. But in the absence of more history, it's just baffling until the last few lines (though it must sound mesmerising read aloud).

km said...

it was an obvious connection to make

SB: Indeed. I recognize many of you here are poetry geeks. I can't make poetry connections as quickly (if at all I do), but I'm envious of those who can :)

But I like BM's description of those poets twiddling their thumbs inside Falstaff's head.

Space Bar said...

km: :D i could say the same to you when you start on music.

and poets are excellent thumb twiddlers, no? like in that nursery rhyme or hymn or something.

equivocal said...

km: Auden's Musee de Beaux Arts is actually quite a famous poem, perhaps among A's top three most famous poems--very often anthologised. But I think here it's less an intellectual "connection" than one based on sound and memory. It was Auden himself who described poetry as memorable speech, and hearing Lopez' first and last lines gives a certain pleasure similar to the pleasure one gets when a jazz musician suddenly quotes a fragment of a very famous tune and proceeds to riff on it...

equivocal said...

ie., it's a very physical/visceral connection /echo that one feels in these cases.

km said...

@Equivocal: Thanks, that's a very good point.

@SB: Video gamers and Blackberry users are also thumb-twiddlers. But yes, poets are cooler :)

dipali said...

This brought back fond memories of CP Snow's novel, The Masters.