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Finding New Notes, Or Writing The Second Collection Of Poems by Karl Parkinson

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Karl Parkinson, poet and author

Karl Parkinson

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There comes a time for every poet when they reach a point were they have written all the childhood poems, all the where I come from poems, all the this is my family poems, all the here’s my version of that poem I love by that poet I love poems, all the here’s what I have to say about me and my life so far poems. They have managed to get to a point were they have established a voice, a certain style or styles and  they have had a first or second collection out, and then like many bands or singers, they either begin to look for new sounds, new modes, new instruments, new notes to play like The Beatles did with the last four albums, or they might like The Rolling Stones have done for the last thirty years, make the same rocky blues album over and over again with the odd variation on occasion. I’d reached that place in my own poetic journey after I had published a pamphlet of poems in 2010 and then my first collection of poems in 2013, Litany of The City, both published by WurmPress.

So I was in no rush to write any of the same kind of poems as I had done in those books.

Taking_Time_Out_Cover.qxdI wrote a novel The Blocks, published this summer of 2016, and the writing of that had took three years, but also in that time, a new poetic theme or themes had come upon me, when I was reading a book about The Beats in Paris in the 60’s, and a funny story that seemed to say much about poets stuck out as good material for a poem, it was the tale of Gregory Corso’s first royalty check for poetry and how he used it to buy a handmade white suit instead of anything practical like say, food and rent.

The poem was accepted for publication by The Stinging Fly magazine and they asked me if I had another poem to go with it that they could publish a long side it, I had a few months to come up with one, and so began to search for another poem which had an anecdotal quality and was about an interesting writer. The life of one Blaise Cendrars was the subject I set down to paper in a poem and so I had something new, a new hook that pulled me through the water to a new music on the shore. Once I heard the first new notes I had to train my poetic ear to catch the new song, dance to the new melody, it was great fun, I feel that artists must challenge themselves to grow, and avoid stagnating into sameness of song.

In those three years I wrote many poems about artistic and spiritual heroes and sometimes wrote the poem somewhat in the style of the subject, all the poems didn’t make it into the collection, I became much more of a cutter, as in I trimmed the fat off the lines and off the book to produce a slim and I hope more refined book of poems in my new collection Butterflies Of A Bad Summer.  One similarity the new book has with the previous one is both contain a long elegy, Urban Elegy was a poem I wrote for a friend who died in his young manhood, which was in Litany Of The City, and during the writing of Butterflies Of A Bad Summer, my young nephew died of cancer, so I wrote an elegy for him, dealing with his illness, grief, acceptance, spiritual understanding of death, the poem No More The Clopping Hooves Of Deaths Horses In Your Legs, became the central poem in the collection, and my nephew Graham the greatest hero of the book.  Poetry is our great tool for honouring the dead.  I hope I have done enough to honour those I’ve tried to in this and my other books.

So poets when you reach that point of what to write about now? Just wait, be patient, be fucking Zen baby, listen for the new notes, play around with some new sounds, it will come eventually like a butterfly will if you stop chasing it and sit down, it will land in the palm of your hand, or that new sound may like a volcano erupt suddenly and start to flow and it will be beautiful when it does.

(c) Karl Parkinson

The Critics on Butterflies Of A Bad Summer

Karl Parkinson’s poems tease music from the rhythms of everyday life, and sing, like Whitman, the song of self. But in Butterflies of a Bad Summer, self admits a multitude: we orbit the supernovas of doomed artists like Corso, Selby Jnr., Bukowski, and Arenas, and sample with them the exquisite taste of dirt and immortality. We climb the highest peaks to stand alongside Simeon Stylites, before swooping back to Dublin to catch a glimpse of Burroughs in a Temple Bar café. These poems remind us of the transcendent potential of the artist; something bright to cling to in a dark world.
Jessica Traynor, Liffey Swim (Dedalus Press)
Butterflies of a Bad Summer is a great surrender to the beauty of the bodily world. It is an antidote to the age of celebrity, austerity and small mindedness. The poet who speaks in these poems lives, kisses, screws, ignores, drinks, argues with, caresses and dies with a crowd of broken visionaries who populate a universe drunk on the pleasures of being. Lorca, Bukowski, Kerouac, Kahlo, Blake and many more all join in Parkinson’s joyful elegies. In the true Whitmanian tradition, this is a vivid Dublin-based poetry which shouts out in delicate, tensile language at a world that has forgotten how to dream. Karl Parkinson is a talented collector of life’s evanescent moments of clarity. Graham Allen, The One That Got Away, The Mad House System (New Binary Press)
Parkinson has set himself up unashamedly and without irony as a singer of the human soul in its contrary states of degradation and exaltation. It’s worth listening to him.  The Irish Times

 Pick up your copy from Salmon Press here!

About the author

Karl Parkinson is a writer from inner-city DublinThe Blocks his début novel was published in 2016. In 2013 Wurmpress published his début poetry collection, Litany of the City and Other Poemsand his second poetry collection, Butterflies of a Bad Summerwas published by Salmon in 2016. His work has appeared in anthologies, journals,and news papers: New Planet Cabaret, If Ever You Go: A Map of Dublin in Poetry and Song,The Stinging Fly,  The Irish Times, The Dublin Inquirer and many more 
Karl is one of Ireland’s most acclaimed live poetry performers and has read by invitation at festivals and events in Ireland, the UK, the US and Canada. His work has been broadcast on RTE Entertainment.ie and RTE News, RTE1’s Arena Arts show, Lyric FM’s Nova show and Setanta Ireland TV. Karl is also the vocalist and lyricist for the music/spoken word band The King Mob.
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