Those of you who have already read Anon’s article on Donald Bready may have had one of those brow-creasing moments during the first three sentences. I quote:
I recall a quip. From whence it came I cannot remember. And yet the quip itself remains, sitting patiently in the worn valley of my memory: firm as a fencepost, still as a stone fish – and as witty now as it ever was…
Still as a stone fish? Is this an actual simile, you ask, or a whimsical invention on the part of our shy writer?
The answer, of course, is that this is clearly an allusion to a poem by the Bulgarian Farm Poet, Ludomir Birovnik. The poem in question is his seventy-two line ode, To You, My Granite Trout, which opens with the lines:
sits on the sill
silent as the stone he is
In his mildy successful account of the Farm Poets Movement, J T Marsden writes of how this very work sums up the problem at the heart of the project. Having left urbanity behind in order to get ‘close and personal with Mother Nature’ (Marsden’s words, not mine) too many of their poems dealt with ‘nature removed’. The closest Birovnik can actually get to a fish, it seems, is the cheap stone model he keeps on his windowsill.
A slightly unfair assessment, I sense (especially in relation to Birovnik, who has always struck me as the most naturally inclined of the group) though it must be said that Marsden is essentially – and sadly – correct.
More Birovnik (and, indeed, BFPM) this way.