Saturday 13 June 2009

Andrew Duncan is wonderful

The sheer amount of intelligence that Duncan packs into a single line is more than most poets manage in a whole poem. His latest collection, 'The Imaginary in Geometry', is a book to sit down and weep with envy at the level of talent on offer. I just flick open a page at random (perhaps there should be a new Sortes duncanianae) to find: 
    a beach of coloured grains where acuity fades away
ending the first stanza of Abundance. Everything about this line is perfect, from the cadence to the fact that the word is coloured and nothing more 'precise' (language as expression, not mere description) to the faint half-rhyme between grains and away. 

Clearly not quite yet a 'mainstream' figure, his poems are nonetheless in that venerable tradition of poets singing for the sheer pleasure of 'new forms', rather like the crazily inventive (though neither will like this parallel) rhyming of Eminem. A poem as good as 'Radio Vortex' with its manifesto of 'primary forms/composite' (you have to love that line break) can almost only merely be pointed to as class act rather than explained, and in fact, less pointed to than experienced and read out to friends. Again and again, one finds oneself knowing one could never have done what Duncan has, because the sensibility is beyond most intellects. Other contemporary poets I hymn for their technique or their breadth or their humanity, but none has the intellectual virtues that Duncan does. He is simply the smartest poet around.

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