Thursday, February 27, 2014
A Finger in the Fishes Mouth by Derek Jarman
2014 marks the twentieth anniversary of film-maker, diarist, activist, painter, gardener, saint and poet, Derek Jarman: one of the greatest Queer figures of the Twentieth Century. A number of events are planned but, as far as I can tell, this is the only publication to mark the anniversary.
I have said it before, and no doubt will say it again, Derek Jarman's published writings are some of my favourite books, period. For a man with such a fierce and righteous anger at the established forms of religion, the diaries are perhaps some of the most spiritual books I have ever read. Amazing then to discover that there was also a book of poetry. A Finger in the Fishes Mouth. There are poems inserted into almost all of the published diaries but, back in 1972 a small selection of his poems were put together with images from his postcard collection. That seventies edition is now almost unfindable but it is reproduced here in facsimile by the Test Centre Press who have done a great job reproducing the text and images with just enough topping and tailing in the form of both comment and information.
The poems themselves have an imagist sense of stillness at times. There is a real wit beneath many of them enough to make the reader smile and they exhibit an almost unrepeating volcabulary that rises sometimes to a near Shakespearean playfulness.
Test Centre is to be congratulated on a really important and beautiful contribution to remembering Jarman in this anniversary year.