Funded by an Arts Council Grants for the Arts Award, Blaze a Vanishing and
The Tall Skies is Alan Morrison’s fifth poetry collection, and his third with Waterloo Press. The Tall Skies is a far-ranging outing into aspects of the social, cultural and literary history of Sweden. There are poem-appreciations of such Swedish luminaries as Emanuel Swedenborg, John Bauer, Alfred Nobel and Ingmar Bergman. But Morrison’s primary focus is on the leading autodidactic talents of Swedish early twentieth century ‘proletarian literature’: Dan Andersson, Ivar-Lo Johansson, Harry and Moa Martinson. The vast, unspoilt Swedish landscape is celebrated; as is the egalitarian social ethic of Sweden’s classless society. The eponymous second part of the book throws a torch-light over Britain past and present, ever arrested in a stalemate between instincts of progressivism, and a change-resistant ‘island mentality’. Contemporary England is viewed as a germinal for social stigma projected as a sacrificial common mythology to help camouflage the true agents of austerity. The title sequence charts the ‘shadow lineage’ of British ‘proletarian’ literature, from the 18th to mid-20th century, via a dialectical materialist précis of the history of publishing as a class struggle for monopolies of reputation and posterity. This theme is the mortise from which both parts of the book dovetail; as is a concurrent focus on pre-suffrage female luminaries such as Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Annie Besant —the latter two, posthumous figureheads for legion forgotten working-class women campaigners.
A new massively extended version of the part-title poem from Alan's last collection, Blaze a Vanishing/ The Tall Skies (Waterloo Press, Jan 2013), is now available as an exclusive ebook, Blaze a Vanishing - Revisited (Caparison, Nov 2013), for free download from World Literature Today. This new extended version of the long poem was commissioned by Jeanetta Calhoun Mish for her guest editorship of the 'Working-Class Literature' edition of WLT (Nov 2013), America's flagship journal for international literature (founded in 1927 as Books Abroad). Click here to visit the WLT website and click on 'Web Exclusive Content E-BOOK: “Blaze a Vanishing” by Alan Morrison' on the Contents List to download your free copy, or click on the cover image right
to go directly to Alan's ebook page. Much of the new material relating to forgotten or neglected historical working-class poets which informs
Alan's new version is courtesy of Ian Petticrew's gerald-massey.org.uk and Nottingham Trent University's Labouring-Class Writers Project (ed. John Goodridge).
144pp, perfect bound
Waterloo Press, 2013 £10
Funded by Arts Council England
Grants for the Arts Award
and The Tall Skies
At its most graceful, Morrison’s poetry is a thrilling Expressionist impasto that is as intelligent as it is linguistically compelling. …If he can be accused of idolising Sweden …then he does so to shed light on England …and the polemic is juxtaposed with fine passages where the sheer joy of being at home in another country takes over…. And in a longer poem, perhaps the tour-de-force of the volume, he writes of Nijinsky whose instinctive genius gave way to madness and a sad, humiliating end. This piece, ‘Terpsichorean Rhapsody‘, needs to be read entire, showing as it does how Morrison’s own feet can leave the ground spectacularly when the mood takes him. … ‘Blaze a Vanishing’ is also a tour-de-force both of poetry and of scholarly detail. The sequence, as a whole, is a plea for justice and for the kind of society where all human talent is nurtured... in other words, a socialist society
Norman Jope, Tears in the Fence
...'Nature and urbanity are both to share,' says Morrison in his lucid, yet exceptionally rich and and vibrant, language. A respect for nature, including human nature, manifests in the disciplined energies of a sustained choriambic vitality. Alan Morrison has a lot to say, and he says it with intelligence and an assured feeling for language. What
distinguishes Morrison is the aptness of the metaphor for each moment. Every phrase is integral to the harmony of the whole. There is nothing superfluous. The tightness of form has something in common with the distinctly Norse tradition of the saga. The intensity of rhythm is urgent and compelling. The imagery is so compacted that the meaning of the words is dependent on close attention to the image. It is language honed until it is exact for its purpose...
from Geoffrey Heptonstall's review in The London Magazine
Morrison is one of our most original young poets and one of our most distinctive critics and editors ...his new book should soon take its place in the radical tradition he is celebrating. Its first half is a study in Swedish landscape, history and culture from Ingmar Bergman, Alfred Nobel and Emanuel Swedenborg to Tove Jansson, focusing on early 20th-century working class writers like Harry and Moa Martinson, Dan Andersson and Ivar-Lo Johansson... Morrison traces the history of the quiet suppression of dissident literary traditions by the canons of Eng Lit and 'the supreme cultural power against/the straining voices of the songful poor: the power to ignore'. Powerful and original stuff.
Andy Croft in the Morning Star
Read the full review: The radical impulse and insurrection of poetry
Alan Morrison aims his sights high as a poet... this substantial collection - hard on the trail of his recent masterpiece Captive Dragons - is ambitious, in its serious intent and in its unrelenting formal and emotional majesty. He's a furious powerhouse of a poet and we're very lucky to have him. ...it's the combination of an almost obsessive grasp of information and wide vocabulary, allied to an emotionally charged yet analytically coherent thrust that makes his work so readable and so intriguing. There's a comparison to be made with Barry MacSweeney here, in full splenetic ranting mode, yet Morrison's poetry is also filled with pleasurable wordplay, a wide range of subject matter, celebration, attack and an intensity of approach, which combines the playful with the angst-ridden in a detailed, encyclopaedically informed onward flow. ...I find his work ...rare and precious in the best possible sense.
Steve Spence at Stride Magazine
Read the full review here
(De Höga Himlarna)
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