Sunday, December 4, 2011
In Ireland there are books to be had that are not common currency elsewhere. Most towns, even the smaller ones, seemed to support at least one bookshop and most bookshops had several shelves of ‘Irish interest’ books; books, concerning Irish history, topography and culture, largely published by Irish publishers. In order to counter my ignorance of things Irish I spent many happy hours of my sojourn there browsing such shelves, a pastime which brought me home wealthier by more than two score of new books. It was while browsing in one of these bookshops that, by happy accident, I picked up a copy of ‘ Edgelands’ by poets Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts; a book that has nothing to do with Ireland whatsoever. Reading the first few pages sold the book to me.
I enjoy this type of unclassifiable reading; serendipity. Farley and Roberts’ book celebrates and winkles out poetry from places to which most of us would rather turn a blind eye; the factory estates, tips, sewage farms and wastelands which, these days, surround most of our larger towns and cities.
Although not mentioned in ‘Edgelands’, the port of Brindisi is one such place, a vast acreage of concrete parking areas and security fences at the end of an autostrada; the terminus is situated miles to the south of Brindisi town - itself an edgeland of housing estates and little else. I spent the better part of the afternoon of Monday 28th November there, waiting to board the ferry that would bring me home. That the ferry port was working at a fraction of its capacity did not deter the enterprising local trader pictured above from trying his luck to flog his wares to the handful of people, largely Bulgarian lorry drivers, patiently waiting the afternoon away. Not being in need of anything the mobile trader had amongst his stock I contented myself watching one of the longest murmurations of starlings I have ever seen, its form and tone infinitely varying as the shifting, swelling, contracting mass of birds murmurated across the clear evening sky.