Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Don't commit adultery - a poem of the decade

Bruegel's Christ and the woman taken in adultery - I love its restraint
It's a weird list of places, contexts, partners. Once when I read it live a man told me afterwards (proudly) he'd done all but two. I read it to a vicar, bolt upright in the front row. Fortunately I didn't know he was there until afterwards. He'd been dragged along by his wife.

I've always liked list poems - Michael Longley's brilliant at them, as is George Mackay Brown. There's some brilliant ones by Fred Voss and a chilling one (A list of requirements for the end of the world) by Neil Rollinson. One of Carol Ann Duffy's most famous list poems is Prayer, using names from the shipping forecast and there's Moniza Alvi's beautiful poem, Indian Cooking that uses a list of spices.

Anyway, this poem is included in a Poems of the Decade anthology, published by Faber in October...and apparently ends the book. The poem's a pivot in Commandments - incredulous at people's ingenuity.

I'm in great company - Sussex is well represented, with Catherine Smith and Ros Barber also featured. Other locals too, I'd guess, but I haven't seen the book yet.