Poets Resist: Peter Midgley
Day five of #poetsresist gives us something to get loud about: Peter Midgley's Unquiet Bones (Wolsak & Wynn) features visceral, physical poems that explore struggles for democracy around the globe, speak to efforts to uproot colonialism while working in a variety of languages and even referencing traditional African poem forms.See more details below
This year we feel everyone could see a little more solidarity and community, so we're getting poetically political with Poets Resist, a series dedicated to poetry as a form of resistance. Every day on the blog we will feature a poet whose work explores one of these topics: colonialism and violence, homophobia and transphobia, environmental destruction, and/or the !@#$% patriarchy.
Day five of #poetsresist gives us something to get loud about: Peter Midgley's Unquiet Bones (Wolsak & Wynn) features visceral, physical poems that explore struggles for democracy around the globe, speak to efforts to uproot colonialism while working in a variety of languages and even referencing traditional African poem forms.
ALU: What are some books that inspired or informed Unquiet Bones?
PM: Perhaps not books, but archival collections and news reports of contemporary and historical events. If I have to list poets, they’d include Dutch poets like Paul van Ostaijen or Adrian Roland-Holst (particularly the sense of impending darkness of a poem like “Een Winter aan Zee”) or Ester Naomi Perquin; [South] African poets like Antjie Krog, Kobus Moolman, Mongane Serote, Wopko Jensma, Niyi Osundare, Leopold Senghor, Aime Cesaire, S.E.K Mqhayi, and D.L.P Yali-Manisi; Canadians, including Jan Zwicky, Phyllis Webb, Tim Lilburn, and E.D. Blodgett. Then there’s Paul Celan, Tomasz Różycki, Czesław Miłoszor Uljana Wolf, Adonis and Mahmoud Darwish, Virgil, Petrarch...the list is endless. I read widely and in multiple languages and traditions. It all filters through to my work eventually.
ALU: If you were protesting colonialism, what would your protest sign read?
PM: My poster cannot read. I do not do posters. If you’re holding a poster, you cannot wield a pen.
ALU: Why did you write this collection?
PM: In poetry, there is no why. There’s only do. I believe Yoda said something along those lines once. I write about what matters to me—collections will emerge from the wreckage. Unquiet Bones is the debris from the fin de siècle.
ALU: What does poetry as resistance mean to you?
I don’t know that I necessarily see poetry as resistance (anymore). As the German director, Heiner Muller once said, “I am neither a hope nor a dope dealer.” Resistance can promise both. It attempts to place you outside; in opposition to something. That is one-dimensional, which poetry is not. Besides, I am neither outside nor am I wholly inside. As a poet, I am in the middle of things, looking outward in all directions. Looking in from all angles. I write about and from within, looking in and out. I do not write against or in opposition. Poetry tears apart and poetry rebuilds. It questions and interrogates. If that is “resistance,” then that is what it means to me.
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Peter Midgley is a poet and storyteller. He has performed in several countries around the world and has published three children's books, one of which, Thuli's Mattress, won the International Board on Books for Young People Award for Literacy Promotion and has been translated into twenty-seven languages. He is also the author of two plays and a bilingual volume of poems, perhaps i should / miskien moet ek as well as
Unquiet Bones (Wolsak & Wynn).
Photo credit: Myrl Coulter
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Buy Unquiet Bones or any of our other featured poetry month collections and get your own pack of a patch and some buttons to wear in protest. And if you need some more resistance poetry inspiration, check out our poetry bot!
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