Friday, October 08, 2010

Angela France, Occupation

Angela France is a Gloucestershire-based poet whose second collection, Occupation, was published last year from Ragged Raven Press. She has had poems published in many of the leading journals, in the UK and US and has been anthologised in a number of small press anthologies. She has completed an MA in ‘Creative and Critical Writing’ at the University of Gloucestershire and is now studying for a PhD. Angela is an experienced reader and workshop leader: she has read at some of the major poetry venues including Cheltenham Literature Festival and Ledbury Poetry Festival and she has run workshops in a variety of settings.  She is features editor of ‘Iota’ and runs ‘Buzzwords’ a monthly live poetry event in Cheltenham.

George Szirtes said of Occupation: “Angela France’s robust poems move through a range of themes, but the passage of time and the struggle against it, in physical effort, in mind and in dream, recur. There is also a very welcome intellectual clarity that produces a beauty of its own, in short poems, like 'Unpoem' and 'Beeing', but also in more gritty works of realism like 'Urban'. The poems are always vigorous and rhythmically controlled. Occupation establishes a clear, firm, valuable voice in contemporary poetry.”

Angela says, “I have sometimes been asked about the title; why Occupation. The short answer is that it is one of those slippery words with many interpretations and I enjoy ambiguity. The longer answer is that most of its meanings resonate with poems in the book: I often inhabit –or occupy- other skins and voices when I am writing; I find the specialist words, tools and attitudes of different trades and occupations fascinating and there are a few poems based on occupations; I often want to give voice to those not at the centre – the marginalised or ignored - those who are oppressed or (in some sense) occupied; and some of the characters that interest me are occupied by obsessions.”

Occupation is available from Ragged Raven Press, priced £7 (inc P&P). It has been reviewed here and here. And here's a poem, 'Urban', which George Szirtes refers to above:


When he comes to a town, he stops
trying to breathe quietly.
He allows the sound to roar
in his lungs, pulls in the tar-taste,
the dust, the particles of skin
and pigeon shit.  

Oil slicks his throat,
coats his teeth.
His skin roughens,
as his pores enlarge
to swallow smut.
He flexes his fingers,
feels a rasping in his joints.

He watches a woman disappear
from one end of the street
and appear at the other in a gritty blink.

He peers into shops,
doesn’t notice how far he has to bend.
The shoppers and registers
tingle like a rash, a tinnitus.
He shakes his head and people look up,
fumble for umbrellas.

He knows his heart is slowing,
can feel his chest creaking
as his pulse booms
like an avalanche.
Looking down he is puzzled
by the vague greyness of his hands,
the granite weight of his legs.

He leans against a wall
to rest and it feels like home,
he lies down on the road
and it feels like feather
                 He wakes, stirs,
cars buck and crash on his chest,
shoppers scream and fall
in the corridors of his heart.
He cries out and windows shatter;
office blocks crumble. Tiny people
tumble from tall buildings
into his open throat.


Blogger Sherry O'Keefe said...

so happy to learn of your blog - via following angela france's poetry.

love this:

He watches a woman disappear
from one end of the street
and appear at the other in a gritty blink.

thanks for this!

5:45 PM  
Blogger Angela France said...

Thank you Sherry - this is one of those odd ones where I'm still teasing out the metaphor a couple of years after its writing.

8:37 PM  
Blogger The Writers Blog -- Joanne Nakaya said...

if you don't tease it
it will tease

10:42 AM  

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