Tom Gilliver’s The Graft

 
 
 
Tom Gilliver was born in North Yorkshire in 1990. After studying as an undergraduate at Christ’s College, Cambridge, he is currently writing an MPhil dissertation about twentieth-century poetry. He is especially fond of the poetry of W S Graham and Ian Hamilton Finlay. His first pamphlet, The Graft, is published by Salt Publishing.
 
 
 

 
 
“The pastoral mode has traditionally been the playground of the young poet. These quiet and lyrical poems take on the difficult task of maintaining a living connection with literary tradition. The Graft turns upon moments of uncertain feeling wherein the clarity of loss dispels our anxious dialectical interrogations. The poems are cross-pollinated with images of cyclical change, haunting, germination, hibernation and resurrection. The desire of order runs up against the fact of our hybridity, which is reflected in the delicately variegated forms of this collection: ‘a mutation, no more or/ less, like the rest’.”
 
 
 
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“In this startling debut, Tom Gilliver walks a quiet bridge by night, his companions the ghosts of old poets and a tyre-deformed hedgehog. These delicate, aurally gorgeous poems perform their strange work on the mind – an accretion of formal and tonal enigmas – ever alert to the ‘flare’ of language, its ‘hoarse gifts’.”
 
– Sarah Howe
 
 
 
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Before We Thaw
 
 
With one finger on the atlas,
Bella traces the confused outline
of Nova Zembla.
She says it is as far up as you can go
without turning to ice.
She says it is where icicles come from
in the night, and where reindeer go
to hibernate.
 
Beyond the window torn paper is falling,
     filled with mistakes
and sketches and drafts.
 
 
 
*
 
 
 
For a Quiet Night
 
 
Let us go where we will not be
overheard, and are unguarded:
here where the hours
could not be smaller.
          The planets are turning
          in and losing
          hair, leaves, sleep.
 
Now she is coaxing
the fringe to where it must
part, and telling
          how the pale would come
          to rest, how the days
          were taken in by heart.
 
 
 
*
 
 
 
[Aside]
 
 
I walked home with the moon
and the hedgehog’s misshapen ghost.
You followed me, for a little way.
 
Was it your whiteness or the moon’s
that ducked behind each chimney?
Or did you wear the uniform of night,
since as I looked I lost you in its ranks?
And whose was the sadness —
(it smelt like dawn)
— that all this will be forgotten?
 
 
 
 
from The Graft (Salt Publishing, 2012).
 
Order The Graft.
 
 
 
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