After his first collection – SOFT KEYS – Michael Symmons Roberts was hailed by Les Murray as ‘a poet for the new, chastened, unenforcing age of faith that has just dawned’. The metaphysical concerns of that first book are central to this new collection, written in a language at once philosophical, sensuous and lyrical. From a doctor who washes lungs to the structure of genes, from mythical hounds born to fire to a cat’s-eye souvenir from a smashed-up road, the scope of this collection is impressive. Whatever the subject, these poems are concerned with elemental themes, with the mapping of experience, and the search for sparks of life at its heart. At the heart of RAISING SPARKS are two sequences – ‘Smithereens’ and ‘Quickenings’ – which form part of a continuing collaboration with the composer James MacMillan; the former set as a song cycle and the latter as amajor choral piece. These sequences – alongside intamate lyrics and dramatic meditations on creation, redemption and the end of time – show a poet of enormous range and depth.
Extract from Raising Sparks
The story goes that when the war was won,
two men on horseback at either
side of Ypres could see each other
stamp and blow. No stone on stone
stood taller than a rider.
Even for an eyewitness, the image pales.
The clear line between man and mount
has blurred. Now, hands cupped to its mouth,
a hybrid clips across the debris,
crying like a shell-fall for its mate.
Contents of Raising Sparks
The Advent House
The Lung Wash
The Eel Gatherers
Mapping the Genome
Losing the Lip
The Structure of Genes
Swimming at Gadara
Tending the Flag
A Near Collision of Free Agents
A Free Lunch
A Calico Coat
The Hospitality of Abraham
North Moving South
Why We Are Still Waiting
The Shortest Day
December Hoar Frost