mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Sport 16: Autumn 1996

Exemplary pluralities

Exemplary pluralities

Rather than being singular or exemplary, the experiences of the poet, as far as Bolton is concerned, are part of a democratic, communal flux. The page 156 ears and voice of the poem are tuned to everyday conversation, the throwaway phrase, the mumbled rejoinder. A television in the next room can divert the poem; so can passers-by, complete strangers, or the unan nounced arrival of friend or pet. The poems chart a naturalistic movement through time as well as space. Like a journal, they inhabit the present tense, itemising experiences as they happen, not picking them up in hindsight.

The poem is not allowed to fulfil itself, to settle into its own pristine, fully formed surface—it has to keep moving; it has to operate. Bracketed thoughts, memories and asides flicker in and out of the poem, asserting its very ordinariness. Romanticism and idealism might enter the poem as ideas but never as working principles. The writing refuses to be a sideshow or to divorce itself from the circumstances of its making. The flat left untidied in one poem is still untidy at the beginning of the next one. And, at about this point—with Bolton’s demotion and asset stripping of the Western Tradition also in mind—a curious strain of Marxism can be seen wafting through the atmosphere like steam from a caffe latte.5