Andrew Shields: Cabinet d’amateur.
Andrew was born in Detroit, Michigan, and lectures in the University of Basel in Switzerland.
His landscapes are mainly urban landscapes, his time the present, his preoccupations travel – the physicality of journeys; art and music. There’s an immediacy of language which matches his subjects.
The first poem in the collection, ‘Aftermath’, displays Andrew’s originality, and is an ideal opening poem for the collection – it grips the reader gently but firmly with its images and rhythms. It’s about a painter on an overloaded ferryboat, and it contains a metaphor which I will long remember:
… Behind him, every stroke
he’s ever painted; the unpainted
‘September Rain’ is a cleverly edgy poem describing the modern city of Frankfurt, with its busy air traffic and its skyscrapers, ruined medieval castles, the bombing of Cologne Cathedral, and ends with a chilling reminder of 9/11.
… Past television
atop Hessian hills.
starting and landing over the
soon we’ll be home, safe as
The title poem sets out a series of objects in an imaginary cabinet – a stone found in Freiburg; a a pond in Bordeaux; a pigeon with a deformed foot (isn’t it odd how many pigeons have deformed feet?), a Vermeer painting; a heron, beeswax, usw. I like the poem’s end:
… Drop the stone
into the water. The fish will not eat it
as it sinks toward the weight of the world.
In ‘Slide’ he refers to a slide projected on stone. Those who attended StAnza 2007 will recall the images of Alastair Reid’s poem projected on the ancient stones of St Andrews.
The collection is bilingual, with German and English versions facing each other. My German is inadequate for me to comment on the German versions, but the sounds of the language are strong and evocative. Here’s a short one:
Alle fünfzehn Minuten
schlägt die Viertelstunde
von dem Kirchturm,
dann wieder, Sekunden
später, von dem anderen.
and in English
Every fifteen minutes,
the quarter hour rings
from one church tower,
then again, seconds
later, from the other.
This is a most enjoyable showcase of well-crafted poems, published by Darling Publications in Cologne.