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“I believe the work of the poet should be existentially grounded. Being a poet is an interior vocation, not a selected career ...”
“Part of the exacting work of the poet is to annihililate the mind’s protective defences and to silence the seductive voices of what others would like to hear ...”
“Poets are the votaries of language ...”
“Poets have little choice but to live between the menacing hammers, still labouring to utter the multiform truths of our being here and of our being now ... keeping open the creative possibilities of consciousness ...”
These are some of the claims made by Peter Abbs for the contemporary role of the poet. The Flowering of Flint is a selection from work written over three decades in the spirit of his poetics.
The poems range widely. Some are deeply personal issuing from the immediate pressure of experience: the haunting memories of childhood, the harrowing death of parents, the experience of love; some are disturbing eco-poems responding to the current violation of the planet; while others are more impersonal, exploring through the strategies of persona and impersonation, other poets’ experience – apprehensions of the ephemeral, the erotic and the transcendent. The voices of Sappho, Nietzsche and Rilke reverberate, suggesting that only in the resonating echo-chamber of a long tradition can the contemporary poet hope to fulfill the task of imaginative representation and consilience.
Reviewing Peter Abbs’ poetry Kathleen Raine wrote that he had written some of the finest poems of his generation, while the American poet Dana Gioia claimed that he is: ‘the rarest writer – a philosophical poet with a genuine lyrical gift.’
The Flowering of Flint selected from seven previous volumes closes with a sequence of new poems which elaborate the themes of the whole volume, while pointing, in the last poem, to a new and freer idiom. In his preface Peter Abbs writes: ‘I would like to think that I am not comfortably settling down but keeping faith with the ineffable spirit of life itself.’
‘The voices of poets sometimes seem too soft and small to be heard these days. They drown easily in a cataract of prose. But good poetry, against appearances, is resilient and sharp. And its task, as Peter abbs understands it, is to “break, blow, burn and make us new”. His latest collection, distilled from seven previous volumes as well as more recent work, displays Mr Abbs as the brave and considerable poet he is: a seeker of the truth behind things, a metaphysician, and perhaps above all an alchemist, with “burnt fingers, charred skin, cracked hands.”’ —The Economist
‘His latest collection, distilled from seven previous volumes as well as more recent work, displays Mr Abbs as the brave and considerable poet he is; a seeker of the truth behind things, a metaphysician, and perhaps above all an alchemist.’ —Review of Selected Poems, The Economist