South

south

by Landeg White
Cemar 1999

Signed copies of this book can be purchased directly from the author.

Price: €7.99

South, the setting of Landeg White’s fourth book of poems, is contested territory, its ‘dangerous currents’ home to a poet who ‘will always marvel at precisely where I am living’. The West Indies, Africa and Portugal have gone into its making, but there are no stockade walls here protecting ‘us’ from ‘them’. This is a book over-shadowed by violence, but trusting in the power of speech ‘to keep us human’, in poems driven by lyricism, humour and a strong historical awareness.

And here he’s again, the Father
of Winds. Our matted pines
heave like an ocean, the almond trees

fuss prettily, ancient olives
munch and fumble, blue gums
bunch their shadow-boxing fists,

while up on the skyline, royal palms
semaphore with their ostrich feathers
to clouds scudding like clippers

on the Azores run. The Atlantic’s
in every blast, and how
the swallows pinion it, cruising

under our block’s cliff, accelerating
in the domestic air, hitting
the corner, and

FLAWEWEWEWEWE they are puffballs, ounces
of cartilage, sheer as silk to spattering
on the tessellated pavements,

feathering at the last split-
second in a teetering
pole-vault, swooping, skimming

the perfected charcoal of their shadows.
I watch them
trying on wings. I watch them

readying for the dangerous currents south.

from South by Landeg White


Reviews

“The West Indies, Africa and Portugal have gone into making South, a book overshadowed by violence but trusting in the power of speech ‘to keep us human’ in poems driven by lyricism, humour and a strong historical awareness.”

Wasafiri


“With South, the reader senses a writer who is his own man and functioning on top form. It is astounding that he has been excluded from our modest pantheon. For there are rich delights here…everywhere the vocabularies of Africa, the Caribbean, the ‘green wine’ of his Portuguese dusks, that constantly invigorate but never overwhelm the verse…Exotic? Almost inevitably. Flagrant, showy, phoney in any way? Absolutely not. Few collections that appeared last year in the UK rival the scope of South.”

Poetry Wales