Risk of Skin
Five years since his stunning late debut, patricides, David Pollard returns with a volume showing explosive, protean diversity. Clearly taking up from there, this second collection marks a kind of gimel, the early polyphonic way of showing how harmony enriches by dividing into different voices. Styles here bounce off each other as if fighting for possession.
A stone-setting of obituaries, history (particularly revolutionary) and Pollard’s familiar creativity/death nexus, enriches this more peopled collection. The exploration of painting and particularly music is a Pollard keynote. It is this inner-part voicing, so intent in Pollard, evident in his readings but shouting between the singular line breaks, that marks his uniqueness.
In the epistolary sequence which closes the volume Pollard engages with the Keats circle in a way that reveals a playful historical imagination using spare, accessible language infused with insights. This is an ideal place to access Pollard’s world, over-spilling with sad, individual nuances: a drastic re-visiting of his very honed language which brings us back to loss, distortion and compensation. Faculties, like hearing, tinnitus, or touch, are lost; the music or the turn of the page is all the weight left.
Many poems here are about death – including the death of god – and the absence of the dead for those left behind (paralleled in his extraordinary Perdika pamphlet, bedbound (2011). All of these interact and ride Pollard’s ever more poignant – and frantic – mastery.
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