Blaze a Vanishing /
The Tall Skies
(De Höga Himlarna)
Waterloo Press, 2013
144pp, perfect bound
Funded by an Arts Council England Grants for the Arts Award
'...may well be the most significant Swedish-based work to be published since Bloodaxe brought out its collection of Tomas Transtroemer’s poems in translation'
'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.... Morrison's poetry is also filled with pleasurable wordplay, a wide range of subject matter.. and an intensity of approach, which combines the playful with the angst-ridden in a detailed, encyclopaedically informed onward flow. ...rare and precious in the best possible sense'
Steve Spence, Stride
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.
'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...'
Geoffrey Heptonstall, The London Magazine (Oct/Nov 13)
'Morrison is one of our most original young poets... His new book should soon take its place in the radical tradition he is celebrating. The first half of the book is a study in Swedish landscape, history and culture, ... The second half concentrates on British literary history, including some splendid acrostic poems about Auden, Eliot, Alun Lewis, Harold Monro et al... From the poems, pamphlets and political tracts of the English Civil War to the poetry of the ‘ill-equipped and corduroyed brigades’ of the Spanish Civil War, Morrison traces the history of the quiet suppression of dissident literary traditions by the canons of Eng Lit ...Powerful and original stuff.'
Andy Croft in The Morning Star
...a remarkable achievement. There is an intention to highlight writers of proletarian origin whom many readers will not have heard of... I am unaware of any other attempt to do this so the book is likely to have originality of theme on its side. But it also has originality of style. I think it important to acknowledge the... architechtonics... If readers can tune into the purpose of the style they should be able to hear what I think I can hear, which is the
unique music of his own voice.
Blaze a Vanishing
Book-length poem ebook
Caparison/ World Literature Today (US), 2013