Alistair Noon’s Out of the Cave

© Image by Clare Jephcott

Alistair Noon was born in 1970 and first arrived in Berlin in time to be filched by East German border guards. He’s lived in the city since 1993, apart from a couple of years in China. He currently works as an in-house translator of legal texts. His publications include the chapbooks At the Emptying of Dustbins (Oystercatcher), Animals and Places (Longbarrow), In People’s Park (Penumbra) and Some Questions on the Cultural Revolution (Gratton Street Irregulars), as well as translations of Alexander Pushkin’s The Bronze Horseman and the German poets Monika Rinck and August Stramm. His translations of Osip Mandelstam are forthcoming in 2011. Out of the Cave was published by Calder Wood Press in September 2011.

“I don’t know any poet who flies about so carefreely, never alighting in the pigeonhole for long enough to become ringed. Each poem represents a moment of attention just long enough to signal its intention, and then it moves on.”

– Giles Goodland
“Alistair Noon’s writing is characterised by a worldly intelligence, striking verbal dexterity and technical accomplishment.”

– Peter Hughes
Wrench open that bottle of vodka
Wrench open that bottle of vodka:
Moscow nutritionists have shown
that a daily half-litre of Stolichnaya
toughens both tissue and bone.
Swig it down like the Russians do,
from brimming, bottomless tumblers.
Inhale, bite bread and breathe out:
exercise strengthens the lungs.
But don’t slurp borshch between shots:
long term, fresh vegetables are lethal.
Those enzymes will track down your brain
like a wrecking crane a church steeple.
Pass me that glass. To the devils
who manage nutritional hell,
the headmasters, webmasters, editors,
and the whole of the Ministry of Health.
Hold the chicken feet,
and pass up the pumpkin ice cream.
Don’t order live shrimps for your mum.
Red wine from Shell
has all the benefits to health
of the stuff you’ll find in the pumps.
Play drinking games if you must
in Tashkent hotels, with Uzbek brandy,
but first write your room number on your hand.
Read Kafka, Darwin and the instructions.
Get the regulator the right way round
in your mouth when three fathoms down.
Be sure to have full cover insurance
on your 16-track professional-standard mixing desk
if your partner has a key and is easily jealous.
Time being dumped with rejections.
Keep readings free from greyhounds.
Don’t crap in your publisher’s garden.
from Out of the Cave (Calder Wood Press, 2011).
Order Out of the Cave.
Visit Alistair’s Myspace page.

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