Simone’s Carouself

Roddy Lumsden

A little battle. As in right now when I want
to pull a cover over someone sick, mop up,
call someone relevant. To make all better.Then shirk the us. Us being the downtime
of the self. I need alone. Alone is whittling,
here where some auteur might mistake me.The insofar. A turning stable. The mount
is linguine maned, shiny to the nimbled hoof,
and oh you go with loop, unable to alone.Identity is the flimsiest of damned systems
yet I am holding its pole, going pony round.
Giddy, but at times hoping to be recognised.Eleatic, but stuttered. I do know who I am;
each twirl hints at the brink of a becoming.
A filmmaker casts me, some photographerdips me in his contagious notion of ink
and somehow that’s me. No, but thank you.
I’ll self it. Determined, avoiding my other.The spinny edge is daring but look within.
Simone, we are centred but centres are things
we can’t wager with, lass. Now and not ever.

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Roddy Lumsden’s latest collections are Third Wish Wasted (2009), Terrific Melancholy (2011), and Not All Honey (2014), which was shortlisted for the Saltire Society’s Scottish Poetry Book of the Year Award. He is a freelance writer, specialising in quizzes and word puzzles, and has represented Scotland twice on BBC Radio 4’s Round Britain Quiz. His other books include Vitamin Q: a temple of trivia, lists and curious words (Chambers Harrap, 2004). Born in St Andrews, he lived in Edinburgh for many years before moving to London.

In his tenth collection, Roddy Lumsden returns to some familiar themes in his work: the trials of oneness versus twoness, the seduction of small calamities, and vice versa. And the everyday mysteries, of running water, salt and sugar, roller-skates and back-up flats.

So Glad I’m Me also contains many ‘conflation poems’ where Lumsden has knocked the square peg of one subject through the round hole of another, often music-related. There are poems here about many songs and musicians, ranging from cult artists like Alex Chilton and Robin Holcomb to big names like Elvis and Morrissey.

As ever, he relishes unusual words (nestlecock, twofer, farnesol) and interesting, taut forms, alongside a new strand of mid-length, discursive pieces in the spirit of Chicagoan poets Albert Goldbarth and Marianne Boruch. Lighter and less inward looking than in other recent collections, So Glad I’m Me is Lumsden’s most optimistic and accessible book since The Book of Love.

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