Praise and Poems
Five years since his stunning debut, patricides, David Pollard returns with a volume showing explosive, protean diversity. Clearly taking up from there, this second collection marks a kind of gimel, the early polyphonic way of showing how harmony enriches by dividing into different voices.
Styles here bounce off each other as if fighting for possession.
A stone-setting of obituaries, history (particularly revolutionary) and the familiar creativity/death nexus, enriches this more peopled collection. The exploration of painting and particularly music is a Pollard keynote. This inner-part voicing — so intense in Pollard and evident in his readings — shouts between the singular line breaks that mark his uniqueness.
In the epistolary sequence which closes the volume, Pollard engages with the Keats circle in a way that reveals a playful historical imagination using spare, accessible language infused with insights. This is an ideal place to access Pollard’s world, over-spilling with sad, individual nuances: a drastic re-visiting of his very honed language which brings us back to loss, distortion and compensation. Faculties, like hearing, tinnitus, or touch, are lost; the music or the turn of the page is all the weight left.
Many poems here are about death — including the death of god — and the absence of the dead for those left behind — paralleled in his extraordinary Perdika pamphlet, bedbound (2011). All of these interact and ride Pollard’s ever more poignant — and frantic — mastery.
Pollard’s intensive, ontological meditations on loss, language and ‘the death of God’, creativity and the failure of writing, are quite wonderful and wholly unexpected. So we end up with a professional philosopher who lectures in both philosophy and literature and produces his first book of poetry in his sixties – a pretty heady late flowering – there’s nobody remotely like him.
What the critics said about The Poetry of Keats:
It would not be easy to say just how fine this book is – It is precisely such intense poetical thinking that is practiced in the very finest way by Pollard’s reading of Keats
John Sallis, Man of World
What I have found emerging most clearly from this fascinating book is a sense of the author’s genuine reverence for his subject – something which Keats himself would have recognised and approved
Colin Murry, The British Journal of Aesthetics