Simon Pettet's Hearth

One of my favorite reads for 2009 so far has been Simon Pettet’s Hearth (Talisman House, 2008). What a pleasure to finally have a solid collection that represents something close to a Collected Poems! Pettet is a careful, meticulous poet, wistful and wise — someone who knows that a word well-placed can be worth a thousand pictures. A democratic poet too in that all, high or low culture, is grist to his mill — you can meet a Bloomingdale pullover right after an encounter with Li Po, Lorca hangs with Cro Magnon man, Pliny with a frog (well, not on the same page & not in the same poem, but in the same book), and Rabindranagh Tagore is separated by one one word (“like”) from Shirley MacLaine, while a bird turns out to be a frog (unbeknownst by the author). As Tom Raworth says on the back-cover: “‘Heart’ and ‘Earth,’ the obvious scenery as Simon’s I-liner trips us through the decades, sometimes blind-embossing a snapshot, sometimes looking at himself observing it, sometimes spattering it with apposite allusion. Take the ride and enjoy the scene.” Here’s a little poetics gem:


I accrue hordes

and then

winnow away,

It is a thankless task,

tho’ not without

occult comfort.

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2 Responses

  1. Mark C says:

    Hearth? Now that takes me back! It was you and another poet whose name I forget just now (and the book is not to hand) who put out a work of the same title some 30 years ago, no?

    • admin says:

      Excellent memory indeed, Mark: in 1977 my book “Hearth Work” & Allen Fisher’s “Fire-Place” were published together in a beautifully designed book by Paige Mitchell’s Hatch Books as “Fire Work.”

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