about this poem sequence

Within These Latter Days was begun April 8, 2011, and the first draft completed January 7, 2013. It was written mainly in Bishops Stortford, some in London, & a little travelling between or elsewhere; in Bishops Stortford, more in coffee shops than at home. It's about my eighth attempt at a long sequence[1], and the one which has given me the most sense of having learnt how to do this: a further sequence following its pattern, A Second Life, is in progress, and if there are viewers of this blog-posting of WTLD, I will carry on posting that, probably ending up with live posting as sections are drafted. The posting of the poems will begin on December 12, to link with the Writers Forum (New Series) appearance at POLYply, at the Centre for Creative Collaboration, 16 Acton Street, Kings Cross WC1X 9NG.

The basic pattern of the sequence is given in the blog’s subtitle – a balancing act between acts of improvisation from the continuing moment of the poem, and from the continuing experience of being in this world, playing against some possible integral and integrating structuring. So bits are trying to give my response to various things encountered, from the news of the 2011 Riots to episodes within the little world of innovative poetry, and various bits of language encountered, whether overheard at the time of writing or encountered in reading. It’s haunted, as anything written at this time must be, by the ever-deepening crisis in our society (in global society indeed), which I see as the formation of what archaeologist refer to as a high-status elite.[2] And bits of the poem are just abrading and reconfiguring language and image to see what can be done.

I need to add a little bit of a downer – that I think the sequence starts slowly, needs the momentum to build up in it. Give it a chance! It is formation of a landscape and the journeying through it that is occurring, not instant excitation. Though I think that occurs also.

If you want more on the basis of the poem’s process, a poem from the ASL is posted here as a page, A Recipe for a Long Semi-Structured Poetic Sequence. By this you’ll gather immediately recipes are one of recipes for poems I use – you will find that all the recipes in WTLD should be relatively easily followable and are for, yes, food.

Some of the poems contain footnotes which are an integral part of their text. Other poems reference information which the reader may well not pick up on otherwise, eg the doctrines of the Chapel of the Open Book, or quotes which I need to acknowledge, and I will use the Comments to add such information. And you, dear reader, do feel free to interrogate or comment on the proceedings through your comments also.

I am publishing this text as a blog because this I think will give an approximation to how I would like it read, with the surprise (thank you dice-roll for that) of what’s going to happen next: no sneaking to the ending! I’ll try & post a poem a day, public holidays etc excepted, though won’t guarantee that. I’ll take the entire blog down after some interval once I have completed the whole process – it would be an ugly process reading the whole thing backwards on a blog.

I ought finally to warn you, oh dear reader, of another reason for the poem’s appearance here and in this form.  The text has been offered for publication to the Great White Masters in their remote Himalayan lair for inclusion in the Eternal Akashic Record.  They have read it and reached the decision that it veered away from the currently more precise and committed stance that they are adopting. I therefore offer it up to ordinary sublunar scrabblers in the dirt of human existence, imprecise, ephemeral and committed to the messy process of living rather than to the perfection of stances. Like us all, it will have to cope as best it may with the vagaries & brevity of existence, especially within these latter days.

[1] Some are published: Some Action Upon The World (Grosseteste, 1982), and from Shearsman, Textual Possessions: Three Sequences (2004) and Are We Not Drawn . . . (2009); available online on the Great Works website are the absolutely unpublishable A Year and a Day in the Dark Forest and In the Dirt of the Post-Lyric: A Collaborative Cycle.
[2] I suspect rather than Marxist theory, a close analysis of the Roman Empire’s replacement of the legal equality of Roman citizenship by the division between honestiores (the high-status elite) and humiliores (us) may prove more useful in helping us.

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