Tuesday, November 03, 2015

The Swan Machine by Dean Parkin

If proof was needed of the relationship between reading and writing, it's in a new collection of poems by Dean Parkin, which dropped through my letterbox a few moments ago.

Flicking through, I just keep finding lines that pause me with that "ooh, yes" feeling a good poem gives.

The Swan Machine's published by The Rialto and is dedicated to the two people he's worked with for years to deliver the annual Aldeburgh Poetry Festival: Michael Laskey and Naomi Jaffa. What a triumvirate of readers, immersing themselves in contemporary writing to bring new poets to the festival every year,  steeped in the words poets scratch out as they try to make sense of modern life, death and everything humans do to one another. Naomi and Michael have stepped down already and this year is Dean's last one too.

It's apt that the launch of The Swan Machine will be the first event - 4.15, Friday, Peter Pears Gallery, Aldeburgh.

When we were chatting recently, he told me this book has been put together over about 20 years. I marvel at that patience. But surely that is also what adds to the depth and quality of poems which jump out, even on a first read. As well as a well-matured seam of humour.

A small poem: 'Old Enough to Be Your Daughter' ends with the lines: "Me / with shirts suddenly older than her." Then there's the barber's comment in the poem, Hernia: "Should I leave this white hair/ with the others?"

I love a poem that makes me smile and know this is going to be a satisfying, original book, full of compassion and humanity. The book's been financed by subscription - a brilliant idea on The Rialto's part. On the website, the subscription method's described like this:

Originally created as a subscription publication which has a long and honourable history going back to the Seventeenth Century, and it is thought to have been invented to avoid dependence upon fickle patrons. We’re using this method to publish Dean’s book. All subscribers’ names have been listed in the book. 

Praises from Thomas Lux, Helen Mort, Christopher Reid and Peter Sansom, and a launch at this year's Aldeburgh Festival…for once in the spotlight - Dean's poems.