At the first hint of blue sky––which hit me this year with a near-psychedelic clarity––I want to go swimming or shopping or beer garden-ing every single day. Good weather feels endless to me, and whenever it appears I begin to imagine a future without suffering or risk, without change. This is, of course, literally not how anything works.
Deep down, I know that embracing uncertainty is part of life, and that it will make it easier. I remember the lotus-eaters. But whenever the sky is blue and the temperature’s above sixteen, whenever I’m in the company of people I care about, whenever I’m making work that I love––I want everything to stay that way forever. I want to trap whatever makes me happy in amber, like a prehistoric butterfly. I never want it to rain, or for anyone to go home, or to complete a draft. But I realise that this is an essentially sedentary impulse, and a paradoxical one. People, and poems, need possibility.
In her interview for this Issue of bath magg, feature poet Lillian Allen explains that her poems aren’t meant ‘to lay still on the page […] They are intended to be alive in the world’. Full of fantastical objects and voices, swans by their thousands and cows in pink taffeta, the poems in Issue 9 refuse stillness, instead furnishing rooms within everyday griefs and historical violences with their own precarious dreams and desires.
Antosh Wojcik’s ‘Skiing’ opens with the antidote to its central apprehension: ‘A lack of wilderness in the house / guts the nerve of its men.’ In ‘A cigarette tastes better when the house is full’, Arji Manuelpillai tries to grasp a brutality that won’t allow itself to be flattened to a single moment: ‘To say a tree begins at the bark / is like saying a killer / begins at the killing.’
Yanita Georgieva’s ‘Posh Salad’ admits an apprehension towards potential parenthood: ‘Every minute with children feels like a test.’ Kim Moore’s ‘Working’ balances these parental anxieties against selfhood: ‘I imagine the world taking her from me, / how then I would be done with the world.’ These fears are inverted in the deathless disconcertion of Freya Jackson’s ‘Half-life’: ‘for now we have no more funerals / to look forward to’.
Courtney Conrad’s ‘Babylon Wah Tun Us Inna Rasta Mouse’ contests the fantastical violences of empire: ‘If flatten bodies coulda mek a boat’. And in ‘The Other Side of Nowhere’, André Naffis-Sahely releases the paradoxical desires that are borne out of those violences: ‘but you cannot rescue history from dust’.
The poets in bath magg’s ninth issue make space for mourning and dancing, for questions without answers, for being alive in the world, which is to say—for precarity. These are poems that know when to hold and when to let you fall. As Bob Hicock writes in ‘Welcome’: ‘I dream of unity / not certainty’.
Kandace Siobhan Walker, on behalf of the editorial team