The new Penned in the Margins catalogue came out today. And a thing of beauty it is too. It has been great to feel part of an “artisan” publisher’s upward trajectory. I have so many of their books on my shelf and, despite their fantastic diversity and range, they feel cohesive as a statement about what publishing in poetry/essays/performance etc. can be. FENCE is in it. It comes out in October. It is a sequence – essentially a book length poem divided into numbered segments. It features a number of different voices other than my own and uses historical journals from visitors to the island of Svalbard in the early seventeenth and nineteenth centuries. It is a kind of polyvocal fragmented montage arctic epic. Or, to put it in the words of the catalogue
“Fence is an epic of fragments that is at once beautiful and beautifully strange. In his exploration of the vast, frozen Svalbard islands, poet and geographer Tim Cresswell has created a kind of travel poetry whose taut, minimalist lyric synthesises subjects as diverse as history, politics and Arctic ecology. Echoing the mournful atmospherics of the great Anglo-Saxon elegies, this book-length poem is a powerful meditation on places that are slipping away, where ‘compass gone haywire/so north’.