Narrow white cover with a coloured kite tail like patterning from top right corner, and small black cap lettering bottom leftHis Own Invented Torments, Thomas Sharp

Thomas Sharp, 2021

Stars and blueberry donuts

The eighteen poems in this pocket-sized pamphlet range across vast themes: the nature of consciousness, the nature of language, myths of Creation and the Fall, love, ecology, and climate change. I was impressed and enchanted. I was also unsettled. It was reassuring to read, in the introduction:

The mysteries of existence are complex, entangled, obscure, vague, esoteric, ungraspable and maddening. My poetry isn’t trying to solve any of it. The only answer is that there is no answer.

Thomas Sharp’s language dances, sometimes with lyrical fluidity, sometimes weirdly and experimentally. I loved ‘The Tree’:

The tree is an enthusiasm of pulsing chlorophyll,
branches creaking like gossiping harbour boats,
it hosts a begatting of greens —
the eye-green of a deepriver fish trancing the reed roots
thinking forgotten mud-slow.
The tree smells like the earthworms’ god,
of ever-shifting shade, of wooded acceptance.
it feels like awareness was always like this.
The tree moves like a new mother.

In contrast, ‘Abstract Thoughtlines Written In Front Of Totem 23h9 Long After The Tip’ speaks from a post-apocalyptic world, using imagined vocabulary (‘floodolence’, ‘gaiashakes’, ‘hurricursed’) because climate change has changed language.

The strange miracle of our quotidian existence in an awesome, possibly infinite universe comes across time and again — in, for example, ‘Supernovas and blueberry donuts’:

We live between
supernovas and blueberry donuts.
Aeonic imagination, immediate sensation.

How beautiful is the insistent velvet
of a horse’s nosing trust?
When I am a star I’ll take my time to explode.
I’ll bloom in the black crackle of space,
exploring all the wavelengths.
Until then, give me sugar.

The final poem, ‘5am on the shore of Lake Coniston’, reverses the poetic technique of starting small and moving to the universal:

Here the world is …now, there’s a
self-centred start, this isn’t the world,
everywhere are other centres, where
others are burning through their lives.
Sheep in the field have idled nearer,
thoughtless, solid, rough, snagable,
feet full of secret skips,
their business the steady tearing of grass.

When I looked at Thomas Sharp’s website, there were five copies left. Hurry!

Annie Fisher