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Open Workings

Iain Bamforth

Cover Picture of Open Workings
Categories: 20th Century, British, Scottish
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Available as:
Paperback (80 pages)
(Pub. Oct 1996)
Out of Stock
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  • As like or not
    there'd be a long row:
    each dressed in his black
    work suit,
    mark of the Cyclops
    on his gradual brow,
    lunch in a casket
    belted to his waist,
    swinging, swinging
    the hypothetical bird --
    every last one
    as trench-quiet
    as the walking wounded
    holders of tokens
    from the broken hill.

    from 'Broken Hill'

    Iain Bamforth's third collection applies carnival licence to various kinds of histories: personal, symbolic, ethnographic, social -- even to a history of representations in the 101 epigrams and 'autographemes' which make up the Paris sequence 'Impediments'. Away from the city, the series of narratives of patients based on his experience as a country doctor in the south west of Scotland, and the harsher poems set in a mining town in the Australian outback contribute to the social history of their communities as they examine how far a rural doctor -- 'a fortunate man' in John Berger's phrase -- can negotiate against the sheer weight of common sense. Traditional knowledge and applied science start from different kinds of literalness:this book acknowledges the claims of both and stands at some personal risk in the breach between them. With rigour and style, intelligence is brought to bear on the natural extravagance of the spirit, and on the resilience of people living at the mercy of circumstances.
    Iain Bamforth grew up in Glasgow and graduated from its medical school. He has pursued a peripatetic career as a hospital doctor, general practitioner, translator, lecturer in comparative literature, and latterly public health consultant in several developing countries, principally in Asia. His four books of poetry were joined by a fifth, ... read more
    Praise for Iain Bamforth  'Even at its most ornate, the style is not quite ostentatious - it's more akin to the apparently effortless figurations of an Olympic-class artist of the ice rink... it exemplifies Bamforth's all-encompassing curiosity and intellectual agility.'
    Jonathan Buckley, TLS
    'The wandering mind will find bountiful rewards in Iain Bamforth's Zest: Essays on the Art of Living... It is a remarkable, sometimes provocative, tour de force as the author escorts us from the Garden of Eden to Provence, from Apulia to Papua. For a series of incidental essays that have been described as "digressive and droll," Zest actually possesses a remarkable coherence. It is the perfect volume to dip into if you want respite from the social whirl of the upcoming festive season.'
    Nicky Gardner, Hidden Europe
    'This collection is a joy to read, full of so much nuance, and persuasive language, a permanent wistfulness that never strays into the twee and the constant sense of travel, of movement and growth.'
    Matt Macdonald, Scottish Review of Books
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