Stride Magazine -


on Peter Dent's Unrestricted Movement

I am struck by the cohabitation of rest and energy in these poems. I was reminded that Peter Dent was one of the first to publish, or publicise, people like Lorine Neidecker and George Oppen in this country. I am struck by the cohabitation of fragmentation and continuity.

Little floating strips of language, not connected, or not definitively connected, to each other, separated by breathing spaces and grouped into stanzaic units. Fragments floated off a discourse which remains “elsewhere”, so tending to avoid main verbs, approaching statement and veering away from it, hinting at description and cutting off from it. It is the words of the absent articulated structures which gather and re-form themselves in front of us in search of a new, transcending articulation, “a different way of thinking” which lets participles and subordinate phrases be attracted to each other across spaces which are gentle mind-leaps. 

So a form of meditation, orderly in its own way, within which the world’s surface and the mind’s structures deploy each other and “whole meanings change”. I don’t think it’s a pseudo-Buddhistic gerundive trance, and I don’t think it’s purist, I think it’s active and sets each poem to move towards its aim whatever it should prove to be: a return to loved detail or up into the materials and tone of principled declaration. Sometimes Beckett-like too, acknowledging blank, broken irresponse. And in suchlike courses reaches out a seemingly casual hand to grab hold of the most startling materials as they pass by. That’s where the energy shows itself, in how surpisingly much of the world is accessible to this poetry, is referable. We are led, with the poem, where we never thought to reach, far or nowhere, resolved or transfixed, in a train of absolute calm.

and will be   /   Only when we get to it     true song”

                   © Peter Riley 2002


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