Poetry

Click on a cover to explore a book
A couple of people have - independently of each other - suggested that I consider moving my "Poem of the Month" to the front of all the accumulative blurb. This makes excellent sense (now that this slot is becoming a very extensive 'historical' report on past poems!)
I'm less happy about the state of the world: the whims and paranoid worries of some of its political leaders that could well determine whether or not change is to be drastic!
Since getting home from Gdansk at the start of August I have written a lot of poetry - most of it in response to a book of paintings by the Polish artist, Olbinski. This month's new poem is a tightly-structured 'villanelle': 


WHILE HEAVY DEW OF MORNING LIGHTS THE DAY

While heavy dew of morning lights the day
With thoughts that shimmer like a thousand birds
As plaintive wails of waders cross the bay

The sorrow of the year is here to stay
Has maimed all thoughts and taken all of words
While heavy dew of morning lights the day

With sorrow, such a deep expansive space
Our worries muted, in our minds unheard
As plaintive wails of waders cross the bay

But silent is all laughter, is all praise
Feelng not whole, not even half, not third
While heavy dew of morning lights the day

For life has chosen yet another pace
With birth, with death, alone far from the herd
As plaintive wails of waders cross the bay

The storm may settle into lulling haze
And tease the thoughts so desperate so absurd
While heavy dew of morning lights the day
As plaintive wails of waders cross the bay



Firstly, welcome. Please click once on the three collection covers in order to get information about the content and read (sometimes also hear) a sample from each. I will be changing the samples approximately every 4th week, so that other poems can be read, should you be interested.
It is now (1st of May 2015) possible to hear readings from both 'Tality' and 'Another', which I hope will link us closer together while adding to the presentation of the chosen poems.

The section "About Me" has been static - if not to say simply boring - since this "homepage" was started. From now on I will attempt to use the space a little more interestingly by adding thoughts and doings that engage me or have recently done so. The comments will be concise. I hope you'll want to read it.

As this homepage was started in December 2014: the first "poem of the month" was JOY.
 I come from the well-known historical, legendary town of Glastonbury. Every time I'm back there, I feel a special sense of peace - probably due to treading on the remains of saints with every other step I take. Two shorter poems, SACRÉD ISLE and CELTIC PRAYER, reflect the Celtic aspect sensed when in the grounds of the great ruined abbey or when on the Tor.
The peace experienced in the town of my birth that induced the two short poems is replaced with a poem that I hope reflects my social indignation.
I get particularly irate about the suffering of innocent victims whether they be individual 'outsiders', minorities, civilians trapped in warlike and/or despotic situations. When I respond to this kind of inhumane injustice and suppression I usually endeavour to write in a distanced manner, which often results in a poem I consider to be somewhat akin to a parable. MOB-SONNET is such a poem.
As I add a new poem to this page I look out and wonder at the beauty of spring: the brightness of colour, the silent energy of growth, bud-leaf- everchanging - not least, the magic of blossoming trees. This month's poem just has to be in praise of May: POSSIBILITY.
AT ONE reflects dithering confusion.
It's about time to give you a performance-style poem: SPECIAL OFFER that's akin to some of the poems found in the latter half of my collection 'Tality Tales'.
I endeavour to challenge myself by enforcing concision upon my poetry writing. This has resulted in "Memento", my second collection of published poems. This month's poem is short; characteristically combining nature and humanity: POPPY that I hope reflects my fascination and close study of nature, both with the naked eye and with my camera.
The autumn weather - having been fantastic - has now turned dark, damp and depressive and threatening; hence NOVEMBER - made all too pertinent by the present refugee situation.
We're now well into Advent - that "once-a-year" time when we are most inclined to make contact with those we consider friends, family or aquaintances who still remain on our 'list'! DECODING CHRISTMAS CARDS reflects this.
The refugee situation in Europe  remains critical and ineffectively redressed; with so many people suffering added worry as a consequence. The crass national-protectionist political response in the coldest season seems to make the following parable all too pertinent: SWEET SUFFERING.
I really don't know just how individualist, self-centred and cynical - not to say psychopathic - our western society is becoming in its obsessive need to experience as much and as extremely as possible; even at the expense of others! I found a tv-documentary about war tourism recently so obnoxious that I had somehow to respond to it: ABROAD-THOUGHTS FROM HOME (with thanks and no intended disrespect to Matthew Arnold).
There are signs of Spring: the earlier flowers are in bloom and the birds are booming out their song ... but what exactly is the purpose of this song? This month's poem tries to show that all's not rosey in the garden, in this commemorative year for Shakespeare! SPRING'S IN THE AIR reflects beauty and love as well as ugliness and hate depending on how one hears it.
We're again in the glorious month of May. Things are hotting up, not just weatherwise. KISS NOT SPEAK expresses a strong wish for constructive, peaceful 'meeting'; both the personal one-to-one and the political one-to-one between peoples and nations.
When one is woken up at 4 a.m. by birdsong, led by our wonderful resident songster the blackbird, and watches the sun rise on another beautiful summer day in June, the social and political worries are abated; but only for a while! BLACKBIRD is just one of a number of bird poems I've been writing recently. Attempting to copy the song-patterns of birds is proving something of a fascinating obsession, and will possibly end up as a section in my fourth collection of poems, which is at the moment entitled "Mad Bird".
I'll feed you more bird food in a month or so.
There's another 'obsession' of mine at the moment that I wish to share with you this month ... Mr Donald Trump! What I write about this man and others usually takes the form of performance-orientated fictional 'monologues': CASINO KING.
As promised, we return to birdcall. Dickie and Bill are still at it. So here is (based on an old wood pigeon duet): DO YOU RECALL?
Many of the birds are quietening just now - their procreative deeds done - and some are gathering to leave for the south. I met a ludomaniac in my garden earlier who wanted to bet on when he might get together with friends and move to the woods. I told him I didn't bet or play cards for money. He didn't take no for an answer! THE CARD DEALER.
The thuggish, respectless political tone reaches yet newer depths in the USA. I find this kind of verbal violence, as any kind of violence, antithetical to beauty! Now, it's male sexist belittlement of women, which makes me hasten to change this month's poem to what I hope is something more empathetic and unifying: GIRLHOOD.
While reading an amazing work entitled "Hunger" by the Spanish writer, Martin Caparros, recently, this drab month's poem came to me: POVERTY SONG.
TO ETERNITY and MOTHER of SINS have been trying to keep each other warm for reading during the darkest part of the year. They get replaced by ELSE, a Danish girl's name, but not so in English ... which results in this wordplay poem.
It's brightening up outside with signs of Spring - soon warm enough to entice bees out. Hence this month's simple poem, MATT BUZZ THE BEE; with a couple of serious themes in it! It's on the contrary darkening on the political horizon - with more leaders in powerful positions dictated to by their whims and paranoia and too little by sound diplomatic leadership! DREADING THE THAW reflects something of the general worry of 'Everyman'. The situation for refugees seems to get no better - only worse - as no humane, effective measures are agreed on at national and international level, while people fleeing are either left to rot up somewhere or get exploited: SURGE. Though there is primary focus on the present huge wave of migration, I hope that SURGE also manages to encompass the historical fact that there has always been migration. ANOESIS is, in a broader more ambigous way, kindred to SURGE: the confused feeling of non-belonging - even crisis of personal identity - at feeling oneself an 'outsider'; a state of anomie. The word 'personal' reminds me that much of what I now write - due strongly to the many POP-OP poet readings in connection with this 'culture'year and my performance readings in general - is not as introvert as it once was. I still write this kind of poem occasionally, however, as PRAYER reflects.
I have been fascinated by a book of paintings since getting it in Gdansk this summer. The paintings are all by the contemporary Polish painter, Olbinski. Suddenly I wished to respond to/reflect on a couple of these paintings. I have now completed no.14 - all of them are of sonnet length; with the artist's titles to his works being included in the final line or two of each poem. As I replace OLBINSKI No.3  with a new poem of the month the number of Olbinskis has reached 24 (with two doubles). However, to give myself a rest from this 'obsession', here is a villanelle (before next month's Olbinski!)     














 

Photography

About me

Born in his own mists of time in Glastonbury - the Avalon of Somerset - to a Welsh mother and an English father, Ian David Lukins has been living for many years in the Mols Region of Jutland, Denmark, where he has primarily been teaching, writing, translating and doing photography...

A COMMENT ON THE POP-OP POETS "nearing 100 days":

POP-OP started as an idea in the summer of 2016 - a response to what was being planned for Aarhus (Denmark's second largest city) that had been chosen as one of two "Cultural Capitals of Europe - 2017". What we heard talk of was projects for prestigious events - events that could publicise this title, put Aarhus on the map, get seen, make its inhabitants proud, justify such an honour, such a choice.

It all seemed very grand and above our heads - as such plans requiring heavy funding and months of organising always do - and certainly didn't look likely to involve us.

The 'we' in this case was the motley group of local poets and writers, who were already reading their work at a number of venues in and around the city - some of them trying seriously to establish themselves, and, if not live by it, thrive on it.

I, being one of these, felt the usual response - the one urged on by the frustration of why seemingly everything had to be elitist to have any chance of being publically noticed - the classic sorry-for-self, I-don't-belong-to-the-fund-swallowing-club feeling; oh, those envious drops of wormwood!
I chose to defy this mood, and stop moping. The fact that our (my) local city had been chosen as a Cultural Capital of Europe for one whole year was just too good an opportunity to miss.

How could we, who were small and comparatively 'invisible', and who were present before the cultural year officially started, be perhaps beneficial and benefit? Could we establish ourselves better, promote writing in our city by becoming more visible, more active - meeting people where they lived and worked, instead of waiting for them to come out to the few fixed venues and find us; maybe even actively joining us by writing and reading themselves?

It would have to be grassroots, low-key, direct - on the streets, in public places: malls, precincts, parks. The money-train was already out of the station and rolling. And - though it would be nice to get hold of some of the funding-dosh - it wasn't the primary reason for forming the POP-OP poets.
For many of us 'serious' types writing is something we want, even feel the need, to do.

That's when I shared the idea with another local poet, Tomas Dalgaard.

Tomas and I were agreed. The chance should be grabbed, and as many people as possible should be met in their daily surroundings.
We needed a group, enough to form a corps. But we also felt that it was important to start strongly with a few of the best of us and then build up, as hearsay would be important; perhaps vital for continuation and success.

In hindsight we were possibly too cautious, too ambitious - resulting in little to no progress being made in 2016.
  
POP-OP was born in unsteady rush in the middle of January 2017. We were joined then by Daniel Mantel, who was as eager as us to make the idea work. Daniel coined the name 'POP-OP'; which, I'm sure, proved important in saving the whole idea from being still-born!
We became more realistic, choosing to perform our work for different groups of students from the humanities faculties at the city university.
We were five who read our work for the first time at the Student Café on Friday 27th January 2017 as 'the POP-OP Poets'. Henrik Giversen and Anders Gade had joined us; both of them good poets with strong voices and impressive performance presentations. The turn-out to hear us was meagre; half of them being international students who didn't understand much Danish.
As a group we didn't get the impetus we had hoped, but we had begun - knowing from this experience that we had to grow and build in earnest if there was to be a viable future.

This we have managed to achieve. The POP-OP Poets is today a corps of fourteen poets and writers - eleven of whom have already been in action.
With spring now in the air, and spring in our voices and legs, we feel ready for the challenge of meeting fellow citizens of our city with our writing.


A COMMENT ON THE NOBEL PRIZE FOR LITERATURE (2016):

I've just completed reading a trilogy for the second time by the contemporary Icelandic writer, Jón Kalman Stefánsson. A piece of literature has to be really good before I read it again - let alone read it again almost as soon as I have put it down!

I won't attempt to come (and, indeed, can't come) with a recipe for what makes a book of literature a potential 'classic' (in this case, a trilogy I've read in Danish translation - not even in English ; let me also praise the Danish translator, Kim Lembek, for such an enriching read), but a little can perhaps be said. Such an evaluative recipe of what works, what is relevant, is good, also includes a degree of subjectivity, sensority, that is vital when reading literature, but very awkward to define or evaluate when making a decision.
In my view, this trilogy:"Heaven and Hell", "The Sorrow of the Angels", "The Human Heart" (my translations) is definitely worthy of being considered a modern classic.

 Stefánsson's writing is stunning. He seems to master the craft of writing, the whole gambit: including superb narrative description, engaging characters and situational moods, wisdom of life. If I were suddenly to find myself on the Nobel Committee for Literature (and it was the turn of Northern Europe to be given the prize!) I would have no hesitation in proposing Jón Kalman Stefánsson for the award.

Maybe it is fortunate that I am not, as (though I am partial to Bob Dylan the singer/song writer) I just cannot seriously understand why Dylan's song texts are literarily worthy of the Nobel Prize in ... Literature. A good number of Bob Dylan's texts are great social commentary, fine pamphleteering - as effective and relevant as the writings of Tom Payne. But it does not, to my mind, make them - with the exception of four or five short texts - quality literature in both form and content; untied to time.

When reading fiction of the crafted quality of Stefánsson and a number of other contemporary writers (including some excellent American writers, if it, indeed, has been the turn of North America to be given this award!) I'm reminded of this less-Nobel decision with dread as a wasted ticket; dearly hoping that it is a one-off, gigantic mistake (even outdoing a couple of other questionable choices in earlier years) that just won't (can't, please!) happen again ... not in my lifetime, at least!

I don't blame Bob Dylan at all. He has got the quality that might well deserve the Nobel Prize for Music - if there were such a thing. I blame, in my endless questioning confusion 'why-how? why-how? why-how?', a group including what I can only imagine to be deranged hippies in Nobel ticket-holder positions, with an unbending 'junkyfied' need to further their (generation's) 'self-appraisal' to an unbelievably dissolutional degree.
 
Though all of us know that politics and ideology is part and parcel of the whole Nobel Prize event, I sincerely hope that the degree of such bufoonery does not repeat itself in the field of literature and the humanities in future, and that serious writers seeking new and more precise expression through words will be justly recognised and rewarded.

PS: Of course, everything is relative; Adolf Hitler was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1939!
The loss of Leonard Cohen this year has only added depression to confused spirits.
  


A COMMENT ON SHAKESPEARE'S SONNETS:

This year (2016) many events are being organised to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death. I'm one of a small group who chose to read some of his sonnets for discussion. Afterwards, I chose to go further by reading all 154 sonnets in sequence. This proved so fascinating that I have re-read them all several times since.

I have consciously tried to disregard the many wild-brewed academic theories about: who Shakespeare really was, the 'correct' sequence of these sonnets, who the young man being addressed actually was, whether or not Shakespeare was a homosexual etc. etc. and have read them closely at face value for their beauty and craftsmanship.
The read has been stunning, and revealing both as a thorough-going study of the intricate, complex character and nature of love, and as a reflection of Shakespeare's own creative, sensitive character.
 
The 154 sonnets - comprising two sequences: the first one, of 125 sonnets and an 'epilogal'12-liner(no.126), that I choose to call 'the beautiful youth', attempts to comprehensively characterize ideal, spiritual love; a direct 'I'voice address from Shakespeare to a man; the second sequence, comprising the final 28 sonnets, that I call 'the dark woman', at times using third-person address, portrays the character of physical desire and its detrimental effect on pure, untainted love.
In my view the irregularities, particularly in the first sequence, reflect natural changes of emotion arising out of any intimate love relationship, and enhance the constant flux of intense emotional passion and helpless insecurity any lover might feel. Shakespeare's creative genius and sensibility presents the full gambit of conflicting feelings reflecting how affected, devoted and dependent the 'I' voice is. His object of love is reverenced, urged, chastised, worshipped; receives tributes and jealous warnings.
It is in this first sequence that I sense the presence of Shakespeare; the insecure human being, full of sensibility and imagination. He lives for me so that I sense a thrill at knowing him spiritually in a way I've never discovered in his plays. In contrast, I find the wit, bitterness and distanced tone of the second sequence much more akin to that of his plays. These sonnets reveal a close relationship between Shakespeare's poetry and his passion.

Unlike the Petrarchan commentary on the meaning of love, I find myself presented in these sonnets with the direct, dramatic, vocally-witten, Shakespearean feeling of love; highlighted so masterfully by the contrastive presentation of carnal love in the final 28 sonnets, where the mistress is a lusty, luring temptress threatening - even desecrating - the ideal of pure love. In this second series the mistress is distanced and dangerous; the 'I' voice wary, feeble, subjected to her powers of seduction. The 'I' voice also expresses irony and sharp-tongued bitterness, suggesting that this 'dark woman' might well compete with him for the love of the 'beautiful youth'; Shakespeare seems doubly betrayed by his two 'loves'.

I have found these sonnets not only a fascinating presentation of the multifacetted character of love, but a further aid in appreciating Shakespeare's dramas; particularly his astute understanding and awareness of human nature.

"So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee." (final couplet:sonnet xviii)'

Shakespeare has done it. In these love sonnets truth and beauty have in their way defied death and the ravagement of time. We're still reading and being enriched by the insight and beauty in them more than 400 years after they were written!
I hope you'll now wish to read them yourself; aloud, of course.*

* FOOTNOTE: Now, near the end of this Shakespeare commemorative year (with four full readings of the 154 poems, plus a public reading of 14 of them in 'dialogue' with six pieces of music by Dowland under my belt), I reiterate the joy and enrichment his love sonnets have given me.
Should you wish to buy a copy of my poetry or comment constructively about any poem, please contact me via my e-mail: "ian at lukins dot dk"