Ken Edwards, Bird Migration in the 21st Century

47pp / 2006 / £6 / Spectacular Diseases c/o Paul Green, 83(b) London Road, Peterborough, Cambs., PE2 9BS

Reviewed by Melissa Flores-Bórquez

This chapbook contains two long poem sequences a short one. The poet seems interested in curves, in birds, in violence, radio and in sudden lyric outbursts. Also, the lyrics of the English musical group The Beatles. The short poem is last, 'His Window Settles', which is for Lee Harwood and was in the 'Birthday Boy' booklet birthday present for Harwood's sixtieth (in 1999) from Ship of Fools. It is a poem of light density in unrhymed couplets. But first in this chapbook is the title sequence, a footnoted poem-essay of migration and thermals. There is an old man. There are birds and the curvature of their wings and the idea of the "halycon" (and "an era of great light"). Edwards' footnote seems crucial:

Alycone, daughter of Aeolus and wife of Ceyx, King of Trachis, who perished in a shipwreck, whereupon she drowned herself in the sea. The gods changed them into kingfishers, imagined to build their nests upon the waters, which calmed at their breeding time, before and after the winter solstice.

The chopping of bird migration into forms of human migration and the Mediterranean creates a spectral Trojan effect – didn't seagulls call Aeneas away from Dido? (They cried, To Italy! To Italy! Caw, caw!)


She'd come back with the family
From North Africa after the war
And she said that she needed a job

And he said he'd find her one
In exchange for a dance

And they did

There is also a series of prose interruptions, about "he" and a computer screen. All this makes the work seem information-rich but actually it's quite an opaque read, facets taken together the effect is opaque, or it is only movement that is left, the "audit trail".

'The Cats of Chora Sfakión' is the second long sequence, and there is more play, more sea and Crete and divinely named people. The colours are gold, white, pale blue. There is a scrambling remodulation of the same elements. At one point this:

within which

we have been

with evidence
of nudity

and broken

like song

so that we may


Adding to Edmund's reference to Edwards and Lucretius and the diversity of parts, I'd add that Edwards' curves and pieces form a poetry of the lex atomi.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

  • Twitter
  • Intercapillary Places (Events Series)
  • Publication Series
  • Newsreader Feed