Sunday Poem – Ian Parks

Today’s poem is by Ian Parks – a wonderful northern poet who I met through our mutual friends, David Tait and David Thom.  Ian is a lovely, warm person who takes time to encourage others in their poetry as well as writing his own. 

I read with him recently at the Heart Cafe in Leeds and I’ve been reading his recent work with interest, as he is working on a new set of translations of one of my favourite poets, C.P. Cavafy.  In fact, I was given a copy of Acumen  yesterday at the Inpress Poetry Garden Market ( more on that tomorrow) and I was very pleased to see that one of Ian’s Cavafy translations ‘The Watchman’ was included. 

I’ve decided to include here the title poem from his most recent collection, ‘The Exile’s House’ which is available from Waterloo Press.

I think this poem demonstrates how Ian manages to control the pace in his poems – everything is carefully measured out and no words are wasted.  The poem is mysterious, and has an otherwordly quality about it, whilst at the same time being firmly fastened to our reality, and our time.

Described by Chiron Review as ‘the finest love poet of his generation’, Ian Parks was one of the Poetry Society New Poets in 1996. His collections include Shell Island (2006), Love Poems 1979-2009 (2009) and The Landing Stage (2010).

His poems have appeared in The Observer, the Independent on Sunday,
The Times Literary Supplement, Poetry Review, Modern Poetry in Translation, London Magazine and Poetry (Chicago). He is the RLF Writing Fellow at De Montfort University, Leicester.


The Exile’s House – Ian Parks

Precarious, on a cliff above the sea
        the exile’s house is improvised
from objects found while walking on the beach.
        His crime, it seems, was speaking out
against a harsh regime.  Displacing
        dust he moves from room to room

or gazing at the sunset, sits and waits.
        The place is chained, and anchored down
with ships in bottles, figureheads.
        The ghosts of lovers breathe against the glass;
a trace of silver where they came and went.
         An open door, a broken blind,

a rocking horse dismantled on the floor
        with flying mane, distended eyes.
Under a lantern like a paper moon
        at a table ringed with stains
he drinks and listens as the night dictates
       words of resistance, lines of dissent.

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