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Jetty View Holding (2009)

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Philip Ruthen Apple Eye Feat (2012)

The poetry of Philip Ruthen scours the disorienting runnels of sensory and semiotic dissociation en route to new poetic combinations: imaginative responses to extroversions of reality administered on our behalves. Ruthen subverts objective views into subjective picturesque, spilling the jigsaw of language onto the page and reassembling its pieces into his own fragmented image-scapes of surreally lyrical, Rimbaudian urban miniatures. A faintly Teutonic touch to Ruthen’s tapered craftsmanship evokes a trope of Edmund Wilson’s on Germanic calligraphy: “thorny black-letter, like gratings of thick iron grill-work... agglutinated language” - indeed, it is in his ‘agglutination’ of verbal and cognitive antagonisms that Ruthen comes into his own, and throws a disinfectant light on the bleached bones of Symbolism. Following his debut of industrial nocturnes, Jetty View Holding (2009), the Van Dyke-Parks-esque titled Apple Eye Feat opens onto startling new vistas of psychical surf.

Alan Morrison

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ISBN 978-1-906742-46-1

£10.00
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Philip Ruthen follows his first volume; Jetty View Holding, with a brilliant new selection which turns a page into something more bitter, yearning and political. He clearly knows more than average about the lows of the human condition and his work is always profoundly humane. One of the forms of otherness here is an awareness of disability and distress always present just below the language. Ruthen’s move between the real and its other is still there, less sour but also clearer. All of this goes with a subtle understanding of the function of poetic language and its straining to deal with these opposing sites of being.

Modern yet not modern, it seems that a new child is involved in this change — the language remains gritty, tense and powerful, very much at one with the themes of the book. These themes and the depths of language come together in an escape from the other and a return to a higher self. The language is dreamy, taut and tough, persistent and demanding.

A stunning second volume which confirms Ruthen’s standing as a major poetic voice.

Read extracts from Apple Eye Feat

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Philip Ruthen’s poetry, prose, book reviews and associated articles have appeared in a wide variety of journals and publications, in the UK and abroad. He studied English literature and linguistics at UWIST, Cardiff, after formative years from 1964 in Surrey, and gained an MA in English Literature at Warwick University, his dissertation attempting to develop modernist Marxist cultural theory during the exploration of Ford Madox Ford’s First World War tetralogy Parade’s End.

Recent study includes an MRes in Law from Birkbeck College, University of London, concentrating on mental health and civil rights arenas, assisting his former Trustee and Chair roles with the national charity Survivors’ Poetry.

Apple Eye Feat is his second poetry collection with Waterloo Press (Hove), following Jetty View Holding (2009), and free-plays without free-floating on themes of confinement, conflict, love, rights, loss and humanity, taking forward the earlier collection’s exploration of the contemporary margins of poetry and prose. Ruthen lives and works in South London.

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