Paul Summers: 'primitive cartography'
Paul Summers is a Northumbrian poet whose poems have appeared widely in print for over three decades and who has performed his work all over the world. A founding co-editor of the ‘leftfield’ magazines Billy Liar and Liar Republic, he has also written for TV, film, radio, theatre and collaborated many times with artists and musicians on mixed-media projects and public art. He won Northern Arts Writers Awards in 1995 and 1998 and a Northern Writers Award in 2008. Collections include: Union, Three Men on the Metro, Big Bella’s Dirty Cafe, Cunawabi and The Last Bus. primitive cartography was launched in Rockhampton, Queensland by Kristin Hannaford on Friday 23rd August, 2013.
‘primitive cartography’ It is rare to find such ferocity of passion blended so seamlessly with lovingly and vividly depicted detail. This collection is breathtaking in its strength and in its delicacy. It is also amazing in its range.
Summers is a poet with a remarkable gift for celebration, a neglected quality in much contemporary poetry. His is a fierce poetry, wide ranging in experience and knowledge, his visions crafted from an awareness of human suffering, as well as joy. It’s a great book.
Witty and self-lacerating in performance, his voice is both pitiless and politicised when observing the meannesses of spirit that, usually, men visit upon their fellows. Equally, there is an open-hearted compassion for the effects of such pettiness that directly communicates in a manner lost to much contemporary poetry. Above all, there is a painterly grasp of landscape and colour which finds rich reward in this new setting. Exploring the apparently disengaged position of an incomer on the littoral, poem after poem takes the viewpoint of a fisherman on Queensland’s coast and turns it into both a celebration of and a lament for people’s struggle to make meaning of their lives.
primitive cartography is a book of rhapsody. But rhapsody is never a straightforward and untroubled condition for a poet as incisively reflective as Summers, and while his new poems are sun-struck, sparkling with vivid attentiveness to flora and fauna, his fierce lines reveal not only a compositional scrupulousness but a morally interrogative care for the place in which he has found himself and the places from which he has come.