The title poem Blaze a Vanishing (A Trail of Small Fires) is a poem of eighteen cantos, and it is dedicated to the memory of art brut poet Howard Mingham (1952-84) whose collected works can be found under the title Waters of the Night - a publication currently available from Morrison's own Caparison Press at the Recusant website.
Blaze a Vanishing (A Trail of Small Fires) opens with Paper Pharaohs.
Pharaohs - pile your papers up in slopes to compass pyramids:
Publish forth, blaze your lives, bind the leaves; transport them
Like pallbearers into anticipated tombs of posthumous
Obscurities . . .
The song goes on to describe the poet as a kind of producer of poetic papyrus destined to be placed in a bottle and tossed into the ocean of oblivion for some bardic beachcomber or researcher to perhaps chance upon at some future date, but of course as with everyday messages abandoned in bottles most will end their days stuck deep in the sands of time waiting to be swallowed and forgotten. Or as Alan Morrison puts it :
Paths of broken links and cloudy-pooled connections
Muddied by movement beneath; fogs imbibed by bottom-
Feeders, lounging stargazers with upward-facing mouths,
Or keenly recycling cucumbers. But most are lost
At sea, tossed across ever-collapsing stratifications of waves.
The task, it appears to me, is not to burden the dusty shelves of unsold poetry books with ever more books without a good reason for doing so, as for example with the ghost of Howard Mingham whom Morrison courageously hauled into his own bardic lifeboat. See the Recusant website.
Slums and Jerusalems, Verse Wives, Ghosts and Heroes, The Casual Angels are four of the eighteen small fires illuminating the way.
From The Casual Angels:
Now in the autumn of our welfare state, razed to rubble
By this Tory torch, at the last chewed-up fag-end
Of the Grasping Age, a decade of austerity stretches
Its talons to claw at scuttling mice; cheat a generation
Of beginners from the chance to prove themselves on the page
. . .
Is there hope beyond computer search engines? Who has heard
Of Richard Free? Arthur Lynch? Joseph Leftwich? Martha Watt?
Patricia Lynch? Leonora Thomas? Maggie Hewitt? Bill Foot?
Charles Poulson? William Robert Halls? J.A Elliott?
William Dorrell? Bernie Steer? Sue Shrapnel? Tony Gilbert?
Rebbeca O'Rourke? Howard Mingham? Nicholas Lafitte?
As one of those children spoon fed on Enid Blyton with lashings of what Morrison calls her Englishness that never actually existed (all fifty greys of it) I often wonder how I made it through. For the record, according to Alan Morrison, we are now in the time of Harry Potter and the Cultural Myth.
Back to reality then.
Verse Wives begins:
What of the women of war? The homekeepers, the candle-
Holders, the lantern-bearers, the shock-anticipators?
Those iron-nerved girls knitting socks for ghosts, pained war
Widows and ear-trumpeted spinsters? Those millions
Of industrious hands moisturised in gun grease . . .
. . .
Would any of their names sink into prised callipers with
The inky teeth of printing presses; achieve sleeved afterlives?
All the relevant and irreverent facts and anecdotes that we require to pursue our own study of a neglected aspect of the world of poetry, should we feel moved to do so, are there for us to work through. It's a great bonus.
The inclusion of The Tall Skies (De Höga Himlarna) completes this important collection from the author of Captive Dragons/ The Shadow Thorns (Waterloo Press).
Blaze a Vanishing crackles with all the enthusiasm and excitement of a trail blazing journey into the unknown bardic outback.