The Poetry Library

Hotfoot from visiting David Bowie Is at the V & A (see previous blog post) and duly restored by a lunch of rainbow trout, buttered baby new potatoes and seasonal veg, washed down with more Earl Grey tea, I took to the tube for my first visit to The Saison Poetry Library in the Southbank Centre.

Anyway, after a morning of queuing, standing and walking, it was a short hop from Embankment tube station across Hungerford Bridge (cold and blowy, grey view):


for nigh on three blissful hours of (seated) browsing through mostly current issues of the many poetry magazines I can’t afford to subscribe to.  In the final print issue of Sphinx (a few years ago), an interview with Chris Emery made interesting reading in light of Salt’s very recent decision to cease publication of single-author poetry collections.

After that, I had time for no more than a cursory look at the shelves (contemporary poetry collections and pamphlets from 1912 onwards, plus a few earlier poets deemed to have influenced contemporary poetry).

Tucked away in the back corner (hardly occupying pride of place in a library that has neither sufficient space or pride of place itself, being tucked away in a corner on the fifth level of the Southbank Centre…) was a desk signed by all the participants in London’s Poetry Parnassus, 2012:

IMG_4479 IMG_4480

I was tempted to take out (free) membership, but I know that my visits will be so infrequent that returning books on loan is impracticable.  But I do hope for a return visit to explore more of the poetry on those shelves in the not-too-distant future.

David Bowie Is at the V & A

Yesterday, this very provincial poet enjoyed a rare day in London.  The main reason: David Bowie Is at the V & A.

Online tickets having sold out for the duration, I joined the thankfully moving queue for tickets and engaged in ‘seventees reminiscence with the ladies in front of me. Forty minutes later, ticket bagged, I had time for an Earl Grey tea break in the Madejski Garden before my 12.15 slot (another, shorter queue).

Two hours and two galleries later, I’d looked through a series of multi-media ‘windows’ on an artist who found it easier to create characters and inhabit their worlds than to be himself.  I did enjoy seeing all those iconic stage costumes close up, and the photographs, album covers, artefacts, film projections, etc.  But I became most absorbed in Bowie’s songwriting and his creative processes.  Here are the original lyrics of Ziggy Stardust, in his juvenile script:

and Starman:

and cut-up lyrics for Blackout from Heroes (1977):

But Bowie’s Verbasizer must have been innovative, ahead of its time:

David Bowie was/is a true artist, a visionary.  I’ll leave you with his breakthrough single, the very timely Space Oddity (1969):