Design a site like this with
Get started

Drop in by Clare O’Brien

As a fan of ekphrastic poetry, I’m delighted to welcome Clare O’Brien to reflect on her new pamphlet, Who am I supposed to be driving? (Hedgehog Poetry Press, 2022).

Spark the Fusion is the fourth poem in this collection. I’ve always been drawn to ekphrastic poetry, but most have been written in response to something visual – a painting, an object, a photograph. The poems in my pamphlet Who Am I Supposed To Be Driving? are about music – specifically, 13 of David Bowie’s albums.  Each poem takes its title from a song lyric – in this case, from ‘Soul Love’ on ‘Ziggy Stardust’.

Bowie was aways a multimedia artist, though, and the poem begins by referencing the iconic album cover, with its hand-tinted photo of Bowie as an incongruous demigod in a rain-drenched Soho street. The early 1970s were a drab time in Britain, cash-strapped and down-at-heel.  The promise of the 60s had evaporated along with our childhoods, and my fourteen-year-old friends and I were trying to inject some colour into our suburban lives with turquoise Quink and plastic wallets of felt-tip pens.

Into that world fell the fantasy figure of Ziggy Stardust, looking like something we’d designed (your crayonned hair, the purple felt-tip boots) and then conjured up to save us.  He was part of Bowie’s own masterplan: a vehicle to carry him into the spotlight. But he was also ours, a focus for our energies, our dreams of escape.  We made you up, our messenger messiah.

We ran alongside him for a while.  The music on that album, the astonishing live performances we saw in our provincial theatres; it changed us. It coloured how we saw the world.  For those  embryonic artists watching, it sparked everything from cheap imitation to brave innovation.  It wasn’t until later that we realised Ziggy had been one of a series of shells for Bowie to inhabit.  (You’d scuttled undercover like a hermit crab).  He’d move in, he’d shelter while he learned and grew, but as soon as it got too restrictive he’d leave.  Find something new, something different, something you might not even recognise. We’d wept when Ziggy bowed out at the Hammersmith Odeon that night in 1973 with ‘Rock ’n’ Roll Suicide’; we thought it was the end of the dream.  We’d yet to learn how the strong survive.

Next week read my review of this unusual ekphrastic collection:

Catch up with Poets Previously Featured: Darren J. Beaney

The Fortune Teller’s Yarn (Destiny F*cks with Milo), Darren J Beaney, Alien Buddha Press, 2022.

Falling in love is confusing, right? It sure is for Milo, and destiny has a big part to play in his confusion and woes… The fortune teller’s yarn follows Milo and his pursuit of love from first sight to the (bitter) end, all squeezed into 17 and a bit poems.

Beaney’s images are a delightful conglomeration of unexpected language, speed bumps that will stop your mind. The poems in this book are brilliantly arranged around Milo, who dances with destiny through connected rooms towards death. You won’t regret joining the dance. Nolcha Fox (My Father’s Ghost Hates Cats)

The inevitable countdown to ten slows down to a mere crawl before lift off as Milo prepares to meet destiny. This poetic novella spanning the impossible dimensions of time and space is a worthy adventure in the depths of night.Tim Heerdink (Contemplating the End of Insomnia While Inside a Postmodern Mausoleum)

Available –


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: