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Lighthouse launch: reading a new poem and its prequel

Tomorrow evening is the online launch of Lighthouse Journal #22 in which I have a poem called ‘Let’s pretend to go shopping together’. This poem revisits an older one entitled ‘Closure’ which first appeared in (the late lamented) Envoi in 2014 and then again in my Cinnamon pamphlet All the Relevant Gods (only £2.09 at Abe Books!)

So I was delighted when Lighthouse editor Julia Webb got in touch to say there would be a launch event, and that contributors were invited to read two poems. I hadn’t actually placed ‘Closure’ and ‘Let’s Pretend…’ side by side until just now, and it has been interesting to compare them. The earlier poem refers to the end of a brief affair between two work colleagues, one of whom had had a quadruple heart bypass. At the time of writing I didn’t consider ‘Closure’ to be nostalgic, but placed next to this new poem the wistfulness is unmistakeable. Plus, something weird happens. Actually several things.

First of all I can see much more clearly now that both poems are concerned with the superficiality of not just this relationship but possibly many of the relationships that at some point in time feel real and substantial. I’m thinking of work friendships as much as romantic ones. Another thing is how the memory massages events of the past to the point that misremembered details get re-invented. For example in this case, the name of the hotel changes from one poem to the next. ‘Closure’ ends with reference to a ‘false heart’, ‘Let’s Pretend…’ is a wholly imagined scenario in which even the existence of the first poem is questioned. What exactly was ever true or false? Does the second poem change the first one? Which version of the narrator is the more reliable?

Tune in tomorrow for all the answers (or not!) and of course, plenty of fine poems from this issue’s contributors.


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Robin Houghton 2024