July 5, 2010

David Barnett

David Barnett [England/lives Wales]
1929

Born in England in 1929, David Barnett was educated at a boys’ grammar school and, after National Service in Germany, at Oxford University, where he read Modern History. He took a variety of odd jobs before sailing to Malaysia and Thailand, where he spent six months with mostly remote tribal people.

After a spell in advertising, he traveled around the world for several years, with long stays in India, Australia, Tahiti and Mexico. He later taught in the inner London schools of ten years before moving to Wales to run a community whole foods shop.

Barnett describes himself as a vegan who eats mostly raw food. He runs a marathon and walks prodigiously through the beautiful Welsh countryside, dancing frequently and celebrating with his friends. He lives in a remote farmhouse on a moor.

Barnett has been writing poems for more than 30 years, and has published several books, including Bent in Water and All the Year Round. He is currently preparing a new collection of poems for publication. He has had more than a hundred poems in magazines and has won several literary prizes.

His poems, he observes, “are about many things—the natural world, dance, tribal people, the land of Wales and its amazing past, other creatures, the Holocaust, love and death. The genesis of each poem comes from elsewhere. Important to me are the sound of words and the rhythm of a poem which should approach to the condition of music. I’m taken, too, with symbols. A true poem suggests as well as says. Its inner truth must be teased out.


BOOKS OF POETRY

Bent in Water (Spectrum, 1985); Fretwork (Passenger Pigeon Press, 1990); All the Year Round (Envoi Publications, 1993)


Winner of the PIP Gertrude Stein Awards for Innovative Poetry in English
2005-2006

from Dance your Dance

(xi)

On this isle, yam-friendly,
dancing—palm with palm—
leavens. Hips hula, drum-
cued. Soles tamp
the land that slews,

spreads its jasmine breath to ruck
the bark-cloth of those
who, paddle-stopped, pirogued here
to squat a tropic. Week
a braid a hut,

months for the dance, pliant
as the dove’s, tide-
floss across a lagoon-cleft,
a kelp-tassels, sucklings’
gums. Parties

are bound to dance in the whorl
of their fortune, lavish
like click-beetles, folklore,
fish-spring, dusk’s
colours. Further

birth for the ageless hours
when a fit galliard
makes love, crams gatherings
with the conch-songs
in the glaze

on a reef’s scales. Blest
settlers, hoped, matched
with their porpoise swell. Till frigates—
iron-prowed—jib.
Their freight death.

____
Reprinted from Poetry Wales, XVI, no. 2 (2005). Copyright ©2005 by David Barnett.



For another poet by Barnett, go here: http://barnettpoems.wordpress.com/



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