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an admirable concern to keep lines open to writing in Ireland, Scotland, Wales and America.
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Categories: 21st Century, British, Second Collections
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Paperback (88 pages)
(Pub. Mar 2024)
eBook (EPUB) Needs ADE!
(Due Mar 2024)
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Strike up music! Scope tomorrow’s printless straits!
I slice the tomatoes, saving their skins – their seeds
freckle the countertop. No ideas but in
No ideas but in things – tell me
The poems in Near-Life Experience are curious about the present moment, its weather and animals, its objects and things. They want to make it real in language, catching it before it vanishes. Documenting landscapes, paintings, insects and trees, Near-Life Experience offers a world where understanding is subverted by the day’s distractions and the unexpected shapes of the imagination.
How do I relate to this? What does it mean? What’s happening, exactly? Does experience experience me? With descriptive precision and inventiveness, the poet finds humour and panic at the edges of the actual. The poems measure expanding and contracting times, birthdays, seasons, climate breakdown, witnessing the moment and its ‘sheer / ongoing changes’.
'The poems in Near-Life Experience are so fully and intensely realised that to enter the collection feels like entering a living landscape. With great receptiveness and skill, they track the movements of a mind in an era of climate breakdown. This is poetry of friendship, art and solidarity, subtly emphatic in its knowledge that the "rain outnumbers us."'
'Rowland Bagnall's poems gravitate towards a place at the limits of expression, but then the sheer lightness of their movement allows us to think that this place is easier to inhabit than we imagined. Their rangey, conversational elegance enable them to negotiate conceptual difficulty without either obscurity or self-display. There is so much pleasure in this collection, and so little anxiety.'
'In Near-Life Experience, ways of looking at everyday matter accumulate into extraordinary poems that spill over with "an excess of sight". Rowland Bagnall shows us that a poet can also be an architect, film director and cubist painter; his poetics shine an astonishing light onto questions concerning time and space.'
Praise for Rowland Bagnall 'We glide along, drifting from all moorings. And Bagnall is excellent on this feeling, often catching on those exact sensations so difficult to convey because they have no fixed physical or emotional focus'
Emily Hasler, Poetry London
'There's a kind of deadpan humour in much of this work, in part achieved by the tension Bagnall creates...Some of the lines are hilarious.'
Simon Collings, Stride Magazine
'Bagnall's narrator is ongoing in spite of the weight of cultural references.'
Emma Desphande, The London Magazine
'There's a breathtaking precision with which Bagnall negotiates the inner life and lives of himself, of those around him and of his readers. Images and ideas loop and modulate, the world and its ideas are questioned and interpreted with with wit and deep attention. And if the tone is often melancholy and searching - yearning for some deeper connection and spiralling through art, film, translation and missed connections - I frequently laughed, I re-read poems out loud, I went outside and read them again. And what's going to keep me doing so indefinitely is the poet's defiant and hard-won sense of wonder.'
'A beautiful and eerie book, A Few Interiors tells us what it is like to feel the outlines of personhood becoming 'vaguer and vaguer'. It's no longer the 'sudden lapse in concentration' so much as the sudden lapse into concentration that unnerves, 'like only realising that someone has left a room when they re-enter it'. These poems move from memory to disaster to artwork to movie to prayer in an uncannily frictionless manner, while reminding us of the possibility that none of this has actually happened, or that we've 'seen it all before, only / in passing or in blinding light'. These hallucinatory and funny poems remain stalled, anxiously and hopefully, 'mid-brushstroke': the moment upon which everything depends, 'like the moment between knowing you might nearly jump / and actually nearly jumping'.'
Oli Hazzard, author of Blotter
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