If a novel can be likened
to a movie, and a short story to a snap shot, what metaphor
can we apply to a poem? To me, good poetry is the soul’s
graffiti, like initials carved into the trunk of an ancient
tree, linked by a moss-encrusted heart. The marks are scant,
but a greater story can be divined from their simple existence.
Jamie Spracklen’s poems are carved with care.
Many things contribute
towards a good poem: the words themselves, the rhythm the
poet conjures when he or she puts those words together,
and the general mood created by the words they choose. But
there is another amorphous thing beyond this: the music
of the poem, indefinable and personal.
I believe it is the music that speaks to us most clearly,
that touches our hearts, makes us pause and actually think
for a moment. A true poet understands that the art is not
about crowding a lot of image-charged words into a space,
but about using the space between the words - carefully
chosen - to create a pure and simple image, loaded with
meaning. A good poem contains the heart of stillness, which
allows its message to sink softly into our minds. When I
first read Jamie’s poems, I was carried initially
by their carefully-crafted rhythm, the ease with which my
eyes travelled the words, but then the meaning came through,
like the echo of a plucked string.
As co-editor of the small
press fantasy magazine, ‘Visionary Tongue’,
a lot of poetry passed across my desk, most often describing
in morbid Gothic tones the heartache of young love. Poetry
seems to be the medium most aspiring writers turn to in
the throes of romantic torment, but, harsh as it may seem,
I always thought these angst-ridden odes really belonged
to the secret pages of a diary rather than a magazine. Poetry
is a language of love, yes, but so much more than that.
It can be a sword-thrust into the heart of our culture,
our world, our spirits. A few of the poems you’ll
find in this collection touch upon the subject of love,
but Jamie is always spare with his words, conveying a meaning
with which we can all identify. For example, the last from
‘Tonight, My Heart is Broken’: ‘After
the first touch, can there be another?’ Understated
and clear, this simple couplet brings us up short, makes
us pause to consider.
The poems in this collection
reflect the poet’s journey through life, the observations
he makes about many aspects of his and our existence, whether
that’s his thoughts about a young beggar on the streets
(‘Penetration’) or his feelings about time passing
(‘Birthday Dissection’). The hard-hitting ‘Elegy
for the Condoned Killer’ does far more to describe
the horrors of war than any visceral description of actual
fighting. ‘Conversation With a Forgotten God’
invokes the melancholy of a dispossessed pagan deity, but
also conveys the enduring immanence of natural spirituality,
however much mainstream belief may have changed.
These are only a few examples.
In every poem, Jamie’s gaze rests briefly upon an
image, and with deft strokes, he draws a sketch of what
he sees and feels. But his work touches more than one sense.
After each poem is read, an echo lingers after, and an evanescent
scent that presses upon our memories, makes us remember
things we might have forgotten.
After publishing several
of Jamie’s poems in ‘Visionary Tongue’,
I’m pleased to see he now has a collection of his
work which I’m sure will be the first of many. Turn
the page, walk into the forest and gaze at the carvings
upon every tree. It might be that more than one of them
bears your secret name.
Available to buy