Jamie McKendrick – The Years (Arc Publications)
The judges admired these poems for their formal accomplishment, quiet erudition, variety of theme and engaging introspection. But, beyond that, it was the complex and various interplay between the poems and McKendrick’s own ink and watercolour pictures that marked this pamphlet out as being a truly singular achievement. Reader and viewer become caught up in the profound similarities and differences there are between poem and picture; they also become transfixed by subtle, sometimes sombre, hued world the two of them create.
A life of doing nothing is a life
well-lived, is casting a shadow only where
other shadows live, doing no other life
real harm, like eating only road-kill.
Granted, it’s not as if it does much good,
or makes the dark light, but at least it leaves
the dark intact, or even audible,
as inky grains sift through the atmosphere
slowing their cadence to a serenade.
So when I’m doing nothing, let’s be clear,
I’m listening out across unmeasured space
for the pulse of yesteryear or — who can say —
the yet-unfurled. Call it a waste of space
but a waste seeded with luxuriant weeds.