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April 30, 2010

'The Same Slow Vow, Letting Go': Discovering Adrian Blamires

I have recently been highly impressed by two collections from Adrian Blamires who was born in Cornwall and now lives inPangValley Reading.

He is published by the marvellous independent publisher Two Rivers Press. The title of his first collection The Effect of Coastal Processes drew me like a magnet. For those of you who don't me, I'm a trained ecologist - a freshwater biologist who often gets mistaken as a marine biologist.

For me, scientific titles have their own measure and magic. The Physics of Blown Sand. The Topography of Lakes. Such titles allure by their promise of discovery, and Blamires achieves much within his book and within his second collection The Pang Valley (pictured).

As Carol Rumens commented in The Guardian on his first book, 'Blamires is most interested in the human condition' and that's so, but only to a point. I'd say Blamires is specifically electric in the act of observation - he can manage internal and external observation with a precision that is as surprising as it is revealing and unsettling.The Pang Valley is certainly an advance on his first collection but that's coming from a high starting point.

He also serves out intricate patterns and motifs that work across the length and breadth of each collection; there are lattices of thought, feeling and language which are wholly created rather than merely selected and presented. In some ways he reminds me of another very fine poet Terrence Tiller, in that he shapes an entire poem as a 'singing mesh' yet also creates a massive yet delicate architecture out of the book itself - the book as a poetic form in fact. I very much recommend the poetry of Adrian Blamires. Here is a poem taken from the Two Rivers website.

Kennet Mouth

Tonight a pair of swans, heads tucked back,
Pillowed on white, float a long eddying swell
Of oblivion, black as a river of Hell.

Here, where the Kennet meets the Thames,
A river of forgetting meets a river
Of regret, Lethe meets Acheron,

An announcement I can’t quite follow
Carries downstream from Reading Station
– Is this the train you’re leaving on?


Slowly it approaches, old rolling stock,
The last train all but empty of souls,
Sparking the sky above Brunel’s bridge

Beneath which, one Halloween, the Pandemonium
Marching Band (sax, tuba, accordion, drum)
Struck up a spirited dirge, struck up

A spectral replica on the other side,
Echoing to Kingdom Come in the damp arch
As torches threw shadows on the far wall.

I followed, wheeling the accordionist’s bike
– The cycle path strewn with broken glass –
Past Blake’s Lock and The Jolly Anglers,

The gas monitor’s persistent hiss,
The lifebelt holder with its stump of rope,
The scrap of grass where we turned and kissed,

Things still in place, the things we list
To stem the haemorrhage of memories,
Words that were spoken, light on a face.


Issuing from the throat of the bridge,
The Kennet, brimming with volume, mouths
The same slow vow, letting go,

As it did before – the same I do –
Giving itself up to a greater flow
Whilst I, knowing myself undone,

Knowing it’s time to go, hold back
On the brink of a cold consummation,
The clank of the train dwindling to London.

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