Today I have the special pleasure of welcoming the very talented poet, and fellow OUPS member, Kate Youn, to reflect on a poem from her new pamphlet, A Spark in the Darkness (Hedgehog Poetry Press, 2022).
A Spark in the Darkness is my first full pamphlet published with Hedgehog Press, so I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to talk about its conception. Many thanks Nigel for the invitation.
A Spark in the Darkness was collated in Lockdown. Some of the poems had been written previously and others emerged from the long, afternoon hours of isolation, but they all have the theme of hope. Let’s face it- without hope, life is bleak. In many ways the poems are typical of my poetry in as much as I love playing with words, imagery and rhythm. Walter de la Mare had a significant influence on my love of poetry throughout my childhood. Generally, my poems tend to focus on the human condition and relationships, and I have been told they are quite dark! Having said that, in this pamphlet there is a turning towards nature and healing- more light than shade which is reflected in the title and front cover. Many of the poems are rooted in the environment and the need to take care of this beautiful planet. A Breath of Beauty, The Unpeel of Ruin, Stealer of Darkness are poemsfollowing this theme. We were all more aware of nature in Lockdown and the senses were energised to new levels; many a poem was crafted walking the local woods, pen and paper to hand. The poem I have chosen from the pamphlet is No Ordinary Apothecary which was written a couple of years ago and first published in The Ekphrastic Review
The poem began life as a response to a painting by Joseph Cornell in 1942 called Pharmacy. Art is a passion of mine and much of my inspiration comes from works of painters. In the image, the pharmacy cabinet is filled with pharmaceutical bottles but if you look closely, you will discover not modern medicines but objects from nature. The poem seeks to find remedy and comfort in the natural world hence the stanzas exploring glass, wood, sand, shell, coral… It gave me the opportunity to reflect on the manic pace of life and how to address the balance.
The opening stanza is written in the first person which is a device I often use to add immediacy. The tercets are punchy for impact and I have tried to pare the lines back as much as possible. Hopefully I have captured the musicality and rhythm that I love so much in poetry. The last stanza ends with flight- another theme that runs through this pamphlet and much of my work. I am always on the trail for new or unusual images and the ones that came to mind in this poem still make this a firm favourite from my humble, but growing collection.
In the poem I have aimed to create layers of meaning. On one level it is quite an accessible poem in its simplicity. However, delve a bit deeper into the images and there is a strand of mystery running throughout which takes the reader into new and different dimensions. I love creating alternatives in my poems, to leave the reader pondering. I hope I have achieved that!
Next week read my review of this fantastic pamphlet.
AVAILABLE NOW ‘UNMUTED‘ by Nigel Kent!
Nigel Kent’s collection of ekphrastic poems, Unmuted (Hedgehog Poetry Press), is inspired by a gallery of famous works by artists from the present and the past. Each artwork acts as a frame in a storyboard which he unfreezes and unmutes to reveal the narrative he imagines lies behind it. Even for those who have no interest in art these direct, accessible and moving poems will stand alone and promise to engage with issues that truly matter.
“Kent’s poetry is succint, never bloated and always delivered with a poignant and very human point of view.” Priss Bliss, Dreich Broad No. 3
For details of how to purchase a copy, click here