‘Summer Scrapbook’ is a verse travelogue written in the summer of 2015. The bulk of it – all of the second part included here and most of the third – is orientated by the coordinates of Colorado’s landscapes and their histories. Here the poem is an outsider, an amateur, a first-timer, that moves across the long horizon of the West. Long and short lines alternate, and reflections on things seen and heard and places visited synthesize imperfectly with snatches of Western history and the contemporary politics of rangeland ecologies. The final part of the poem undergoes a shift to a more abstract register; syntactic obscurity takes over from documentary record, sending the poem back home.
“Sheffield Shanty” meditates on work, technology, love, cooking and the parallel evolution of natural history and colonial exploration, in self-interrupting verse paragraphs that don’t know where to end or turn the corner. The title is provided by cutlers’ songs from the knife-making city of Sheffield, in the north of England, and the eighteenth-century radical plebeian idea of ‘Saint Monday’, in which labourers would extend the weekend by heading to the ale house rather than to work. It ends with a scrambled transmission of the Zapatistas’ first communiqué from the Lacandon jungle.