David Cooke is the new Featured Writer. His biography includes an illustrious list of places where he has been published so I am very honoured by his agreement to be here. He is another person who feels like a friend even though I haven’t met him. (He once sent me a memorable elephant poem in response to one of mine.) But I have recently ‘met’ him in his poems and I can tell you that A Murmuration is a sumptuous read, full of snippets of history embedded in acutely observed details in a variety of places and in the natural world. His pheasant poem must be the definitive poem about pheasants with ‘his song’s in the key/ of twisting metal’. The cover of this book is also beautifully designed and complements the poems within.
I found this excellent review of A Murmuration and which gives an overview of David Cooke’s work.
Here is the opening and ending from the title poem of this collection, which is a beautiful evocation of the starling phenomenon but also perhaps a metaphor for the writing of poems and maybe of our perception of the world around us:
Something is gathering
at the edge of evening,
a shoaling of consciousness
as light fails,
One by one,
they’ll come to roost
in a city of leaves,
a settlement of feathers.
And I can’t not give you the first poem in the book – for the picture it gives me of Lincolnshire, for its measured quiet reflection, its stunning verbs (the ‘flicker’ of the gulls), and its wonderful imagery. I don’t know the Wolds but I do know them a bit now.
At Woody’s Top
Trying to see it, I look across a landscape
on the raised edge of Lincolnshire
whose flat productive acres have wrinkled
into the rise and dip
of the Wolds, as if geology
had assumed a rhythm like verse.
And though it’s all a question
of pressure and upheavals,
and the slow, relentless stroke of weather,
my gaze settles on a view
that has the fixity
and composure of a final draft.
Beyond the mizzling bluster
of a late October morning
the distances are sealed in silence,
where gulls flicker above the copse
like random thoughts
that may or may not amount to something.
Thank you, David.