'pizzazz, wit and - astonishing at his age - both technical assurance and a genuinely integrated humanity' -- Fiona Sampson
Share PoetCopy to clipboardCopied
About Ahren Warner
Ahren Warner grew up in Lincolnshire before moving to London, then Paris. He is the author of two collections of poetry, Confer (Bloodaxe, 2011), which was both a Poetry Book Society Recommendation and shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection (2011) and Pretty (Bloodaxe, 2013), also a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. His third collection, Hello. Your Promise Has Been Extracted was published by Bloodaxe in 2017. Warner is poetry editor of Poetry London.
Many of the poems included in this Archive recording situate Warner as a modern day flâneur and draw particularly on the landscapes of London and Paris. The speaker reflects on his surroundings, as in the humourous lines ‘On Avenue de l’Operao Rue des Petits Champs, I find myself so often fixated by a girl’s derriére’, and, through the stimulus of the city, comes to reflect on himself too; ‘l’etranger is not this man in the window just off the Euston Road but rather a shifting in this me that is’.
The modern day wanderer takes in not just the city, but the contemporary cultural landscape produced by works of art and poetry. This is clear from the seven sections of the Metousiosis sequence included here; each title comes from an iconic work of art, arranged chronologically. As in the earlier sequence Lutèce, te amo, the poems may not immediately seem linked – they certainly do not form any conventionally coherent narrative – but their impact depends on their strangely fragmented and alien completeness and their message is of the search for a bodily completeness. It makes a strange kind of sense to understand bodily forms through the abstractions of art, rather than the airbrushed and unattainable images that proliferate our media.
At times, Warner’s learned intellectual references to theorists, philosophies and artwork might create a dense verse. Amidst this sea of allusion, there is even reason in what isn’t said. On the page many of Warner’s poems make use of eyecatching spacing between the words and let the silence punctuate, drawing attention to what Derrida calls the ‘brisure’ (hinge) between the words. It is from this theory that ‘La Brisure’ takes both its title and shape, and in reading this poem for his Archive recording, the spatial hinge becomes aural. There is a refreshingly irreverent wit in his poetry that comes from situating the academic alongside the lived experience. The poem which takes its title from the Greek for Dionysus (Διονυσος) addresses not the God of wine, ecstasy and madness, but a lolling London boy on a bus being slapped by his infuriated girlfriend. Just as in ‘Sitzender mannlicher Akt’ there is more ‘beyond this party trick of intellect’.
Ahren Warner’s recording was made on March 9th 2012 at ID Studio, London, UK, and was produced by John Green.