Poet David Harsent reads from Selected Poems 1969-2005

for selected poems 1969 to 2005 by David har sendt the four decades worth of work spanned by David harsens selected poems reveal a writer of enormous accomplishment in whom a constant Restless investigation of new forms new subjects new ways of putting together a poem or sequence of poems is underpinned by a remarkably consistent and powerful poetic sensibility you know instantly when you are in a David har sendt poem the vivid landscapes where the weather shifts as rapidly between inner and outer as it does between bright and menacing the haunting psychological situations that give you a novel’s worth of drama in a few lines the dense imagery continually opening up the narratives to new levels of suggestion and implication the controlled riot of language the intense fluid musicality I wanted to look at what I refer to as the mysteries of domesticity which refers to the fact that in a long relationship the quotidian is just the quotidian is just a day by day but there is something sort of going on under the surface so in a sense dinner is just dinner but there’s another sense in which all food as a sacrament and this is a sort of dinner poem I perch on a bower house style chrome and raffia stool as you drop your knife and pause to consider this fish and its fist ela this fish with its deep deformity its head like a cosh its raw flank and blood brown eyes its lips of lopsided blubber this fish we are having for supper you laid out cold cash to have them deliver this fish close packed in ice iglesias coelacanth preserved against all the odds as if some throw of the dice some coin turning a thousand years to come down heads had brought to the marble slab in our kitchen of all kitchens this fish sporting it’s jolly truncheon lump of sorbo rubber and the great wet ulcer opening beneath its backbone as you start again cleansing good from bad you let spill a viscous flub of gut that slips from your wrist to the marble where it spells out the higher a gram most often linked with the once-in-a-lifetime miraculous descent of the goddess her gills crisp enough to cut as you trade kiss for kiss flesh of her flesh I’ll eat it if you will you