A Letter from the Editor

Dear Reader,

Welcome to our twenty-second issue.

Whilst urban space and nature are historically viewed as opposing concepts, the green man is a welcome intruder here. Nature’s presence in the city is apparent in many of the poems found in this issue. In Eamonn Lynskey’s “He Walks His Several Cities” and Michael Schiffman’s “Dwelling on Decay” the direct conflict between city and nature is explicit. This is a full-on land grab. In other poems, nature has other functions, such as the power to shake us from our urban stupor. In “A Crow in the Sun in Two Thousand and Three” by Alzo David-West, the sudden appearance of a bird is so captivating that the chaos of city life recedes dramatically. In Seamus Hogan’s “Paris Nuit 2016,” the blackbird’s call cuts through the urban darkness. And in Laura Glenn’s bicycle flâneuse poem, “Pedaling Backward,” the moving grasses provide a momentary “hypnotic moiré”.

This month’s cover art comes courtesy of the Italian photographer Roberto Raiz. He has always been fascinated by the geometry of the city – its architectural lines. However, when shooting architecture alone he often discovered the results to be “elegant, sometimes ethereal and magical” but also “sterile”. It became his endeavour to “make architecture more involved and meaningful by capturing the presence of the human being that lives within the ‘lines’”. His stunning portfolio can be explored further here and here.

Taken at La Triennale di Milano, Raiz’s cover photograph is part of a series entitled “Humans in Urban Geometries”. He suggests that the “partially undefined human figure” in the photograph appears as though he is in “fast forward mode,” as on a video recorder. Raiz comments: “nowadays our life is not playing on a regular frequency, it’s going too fast, and we’re losing too many important things and values”. Raiz’s words ring true with the manner in which this issue captures city life. “Commuting” by Finola Scott emphasises disconnection — the urbanite losing touch with his surroundings.

Yet, this issue also addresses the antidote to such disconnection. “On My Walk Along Stoke Road,” by Belinda Rimmer, “Moscow” by Elizabeth McSkeane and Looking back: Amsterdam Moment” by E A M Harris, all underline the importance of personal and collective memory ascribed to place. Meanwhile, Iain Rowan’s “Weightless” speaks of an invisibility similar to that enjoyed by the nineteenth century Parisian flâneur. In fact, each of the poems found here encourage a change of pace, a re-connection via observation, whereby, to quote Baudelaire, we relearn that “to take a bath in the multitude: to enjoy the crowd is an art.”

Often the intrusion of nature in the city helps us to press the metaphorical pause button on urban life. Nature does not follow our urban laws. It does not follow our lines. Its appearance can be unexpected, and sufficiently unsettling to stir us from our A to B existences and reconsider ourselves and our place in the world surrounding us.

There is some great poetry in this issue. Enjoy it.

Yours faithfully,

Darren Richard Carlaw