Kelvin Corcoran

Reading Sean Rafferty for the first time I was subject to considerable excitement. This was PEACOCKS. FULL STOP, a Poetical Histories publication from Peter Riley. What got me was the opening lyric, immediate, parochial, mythopoeic - and it is unlimited in all these surprising qualities. It is a near perfect poem. Rafferty does what Adam the clown implores the big creator to do: stop before you spoil it.

Such thoughtful resistance to human intrusion onto the scene is immensely attractive. Of course, paradoxically it is only possible because of the human artifice of the poem itself. I think it should be read on a daily basis to the variously boring and murderous religious fantasists whose every word receives witless sanction by the state. Listen, you’re not that important, and ‘I doan like it.’

That the voice of the poem is assured with this supposedly profound material is another triumph. You can see what you hear in the syntax, rhythm and capitalisation of the first stanza. The artistry hides itself, makes no fuss and claims no dominion - unlike that foisted upon wobble bag Adam by the Voice.

An enlightened view of the development of modern poetry would elevate Rafferty. In the interview with Nicholas Johnson in the Carcanet Collected Poems , he rejects the notion of being a Scottish, English or Irish poet, so we don’t need to nationalise what poetic tradition I might mean by this. It is also here that he claims a fondness for vegetables because you can eat them and they don’t talk to you. He belongs slap-bang in the middle of that tradition which is the genius of scepticism, the common tongue and inspiration.

‘Peacocks was really great.’

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