Issue 27: Simon Perril


from ‘Promenade: Deck 1’

for one omenon

according morning

clear speculation aspect

betrays concrete

oscillates indivisible incidence

mixes more different

an overture at the end

the face of immediate weather

lowering rain

the early during

frothy guarantee

meteorological as rest

declared process

sunset is quite a different matter

offered spectacle battles

tangible form

succeeded at lower dawn

twilight information setting

thermometer case

phases tides less civilised

combines buffeted consciousness

fluffy theatres glow

triple knocking performance

remembering blinks

relive fatigue

calm water alms

recalling opaque forces

dimly war

in thick concealed blur

rocking golden light

slight boat curve

to rock the matter of fact

purely geometrical transition

crossing isotherms

high rain-curves

the impression of a change

of planet

itinerary of unpractised eye

followed invisible lands

present beyond

vex horizon

it seemed to them shut

narrow days expiate

transported limbs

made too soft by sleeping

protracted mornings fill

slightest effort provided

depths engines

realised making the latter

wander about the body

some solitary dabs

ventilator blue

paint nautical miles

vaguely lapping corridors

proof the crystal sea

rusty detached West

hooked complex horizon moulding

towards immobilized clouds

carved confused spurts

guilded dark relief

dappled devoid

decomposing looking

into luminous twists

see rose structure

edged scattering border remnants

only the dissolving sea

variegated flagstones

dwindled cosmological

rested dolmens supporting mass

turned one’s back

ramparts glistening ethereal

superimposed sun

hillocky mauve gleams

sideways silvered lighting

cluttered celestial reefs

meanwhile opaque sectors

octopus the obstacle

as if a vaporous fist

grottoes light

along times pink mitten

find intensity withdrawn

Some Deck notes

Sun  Set  Deck  Cogitation folds together two journeys undertaken by the anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss. In 1935, aged 26, he stood on the deck of the Mendoza, leaving Marseilles - and Europe for the first time - for the first leg of its journey to Brazil. He left with aspirations as a Conradian novelist, and within the journey, he made a forensically detailed notebook description of a sunset. He regarded it as so significant for his career that he reprinted it in its entirety in Tristes Tropiques.

If Tristes's account of the original departure is a collage of different times, my series of ‘treated’ strolls around the notebook open out onto a different deck; a different moment of departure - Lévi-Strauss’s tenure on the Capitaine Paul-Lemerle, as one of many exiles from Marseilles in 1941. He joined other Vichy ‘undesirables’ André Breton, Russian novelist and dissident Victor Serge, painter Wifredo Lam, and Aimé and Suzanne Césaire: comrades in fleeing persecution.

Rebecca Solnit posits the promenade as ‘a special subset of walking with an emphasis on slow stately movement, socialising, and display. It is not a way of getting anywhere, but a way of being somewhere, and its movements are essentially circular’. What better mode of locomotion for those strolling the decks of a rolling ship of exiles, restless with the need to be elsewhere.

My first deck promenade (there are seven) was an enthused improvised scan through the surface ripples of the text, as Lévi-Strauss may have attended to the refracted rays of his sunset dispersed across the ocean he moved upon.

Simon Perril is a poet and collagist. His poetry publications include The Slip (Shearsman, 2020), In the Final Year of my 40s (Shearsman, 2018), Beneath (Shearsman, 2015) Archilochus on the Moon (Shearsman, 2013), Newton’s Splinter (Open House, 2012), Nitrate (Salt, 2010), A Clutch of Odes (Oystercatcher, 2009), and Hearing is Itself Suddenly a Kind of Singing (Salt, 2004).

As a critic he has written widely on contemporary poetry, editing The Salt Companion to John James, and Tending the Vortex: The Works of Brian Catling. He is Professor of Poetic Practice at De Montfort University, in Leicester. You can see Simon reading from Sun  Deck  Set  Cogitation with accompanying visuals as part of his talk/reading, ‘Synaptic Foliage’:

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