Thank you to Carol Rumens for her close reading in the Guardian of Cob, from my most recent collection The Catch.
As she notes, The Catch (reviewed here by Sean O’Brien) uses breath rather than punctuation to shape the poems – and for me this presented a form that is both supple and labile, nodding as it does to W S Merwin’s notion that punctuation ‘staples’ a poem to the page. Each poem is a single sentence, and it was vital to me that this sentence ‘worked’ – it had an internal consistency and could be viewed from without as having complete coherence. Yet within this I aimed to keep the reader on their toes, to open a space for different readings in both senses of the word – the way it is read, and the way it is understood.
For any poet, this is the challenge, to use form as part of the ‘thinking’ the poem does. As I discuss in my book Lyric Cousins, poetry and breath have relationship of complete intimacy, and it is one of the things I explore in The Catch. It is a joy when a close reading works hard enough to seek out these hidden structural – and ontological – systems within a poem – thanks to Carol Rumens for doing just that.