David Caddy is a poet, writer, critic and literary sociologist. He lives and works in rural Dorset from where he edits international literary journal Tears in the Fence. He was co-author of London: City of Words (2006) with Westrow Cooper. Man in Black (Penned in the Margins, 2007) is his eighth book of poetry and follows the highly regarded collection The Willy Poems (Clamp Down Press, USA, 2004). David is a long-standing promoter of poetry. He founded the East Street Poets in 1985, which he ran until 2001, and directed the Wessex Poetry Festival from 1995 until 2002 and the Tears in the Fence Festival from 2003 to 2005. His latest book of poetry is The Bunny Poems (Shearsman, 2011). A collection of essays, So Here We Are is forthcoming from Shearsman Books in October 2011.
“The incantations and damnations of Caddy’s poetry are at full tilt … These are runic translations out of the woodlands, out of the fields, out of folktale and gossip, into modernity, into the doubts and occlusions of the urban. There’s mystery here, and a desire to explain the absences, to rediscover lost ‘home’. The book is like an ancient script that throws light on who and what we’ve become, and how. It comes out of the oppressed land.”
– John Kinsella
“Who else could bring together the spirits of John Donne and Johnny Cash in one collection? In Man in Black, David Caddy, a quintessential poet of place, rakes through the gloss and pump of a Botoxed modern world to find what’s been lost. These poems echo like footsteps in an abandoned mill; haunting, mortal poems that face the human condition head on.”
– Lori Jakiela
“David Caddy reaches forward, breaks the bounds of what is possible within the short poem, [taking] the reader to a new place altogether. The visionary quality in these poems [is] astonishing in its range, its depth, its complexity.”
– Jeremy Hilton, Poetry Salzburg Review
“Caddy has provided another important contribution to ecological literature. It is clear that Dorset is the portion of earth for which Caddy feels responsible. And Caddy speaks for it confidently, with pulsing anaphora, watchful litanies, and studied allusions.”
– Janelle Adsit, Pedestal Magazine
A Silence Opens
No one I know or heard of
wants to live there now.
There are no signposts to the road.
The village bank closed long ago.
This is the view you laughed at,
sometimes, at least, weeping with,
trying to dovetail into a gentle
and condensed living.
When you left the season was high
with heartsease, lovage, tansy, self-heal.
Now it spawns gestures of recognition, mild
complaint, the bark of transience.
Gnarled old-timers fretful, densely frugal,
hateful of the French and Labour,
long for pitchfork days, leaning into gates,
following distant hares, coursing.
Effort and loss redundant in a moment’s
blink, a ledger cross, some lack
or fickle twist and the holding grows thin
at the end of a dwindling track.
I have been there and I am
impatient to return. Silent
and motionless it is surrounded.
With each step we get closer.
I can speak of this virus
that loiters by the wire fence
of the prattle that passes for dialogue
the wind that lashes a man’s throat.
I propose to you a hill.
In the woods rooks call attention
to our presence.
Our bodies are full of expectation.
It hurts to live the way we do
wanting so much
unable to cope with this longing
unwilling to wait.
The landscape we love grows dark
so easily. Turning back we feel
the need to stop and linger.
We move. Stop. Are soon gone.
Sermon By The Crossroads, East Stour 1829
There are men and women here that like
ideas are shadows, children that are ghosts
of salts and gases. What moves these
writhing upwards as kites is love not punishment.
A lofty courage with wings, less than intoxicated,
they sway here and there in thermals
soaring over walks sprinkled with liverwort,
forget-me-nots and vast openings, wasted.
All in all, the divine pushes outwards,
as rooks rattle the mind out of slumber
the lid of lost questions interrogates the soul
breathing in the substance of things hoped for.
Inside this meadow ash and willow wish
and the wind across plants, leaves
and the thrush, tom-tit, lark call nurture
the wherewithal of a brighter light.
Unwanted spectres rise as bent magnets
usurp and tether tenancy beyond contract
leaving less than deepest yearnings,
the heart as clockwork out of time.
Let me ask you to place a bell
around the neck of every cow
so that you can hear that dissent
is alive and moving in discovery.
Let us clear and keep the Commons
disconnected after the fashion of clouds.
A rock is not superstition until it hurts
like the near-present hurtling towards us.
from Man in Black (Penned in the Margins, 2007).
Order Man in Black.