by Dominic James
I am grateful to Anthony Nanson for inviting me to contribute a few lines on my poetry collection, Pilgrim Station, recently brought out by SPM Publications. Anthony, who offered me some comfort over waiting periods on poems and stories last year, kindly re-confirmed my ecobardic credentials in a lightly worded rejection slip for some other wild project of mine only the other month. And it comes to mind that I have bumped into and worked beside several members of the Awen and Fire Springs pantheon over the last couple of years. Our sympathies overlap.
Pilgrim Station is my first collection, made up of poems I have written since taking up poetry seriously, about eight years ago. A writer of short stories with a bookish background, I always kept a watchful eye on poetry. It has been the advent of middle age, that downhill-sloping, happy time, that has brought me to concentrate on poetry, the subject at hand. The attraction is that it has the spiritual/philosophical edge that is always present but generally unobserved, or unsummoned, in our day-to-day communication. We express these things quietly to ourselves, in our thoughts – but if we could speak as nimbly, poetry would be the result. Or the aim.
For these poems I have gone back and forward through my life from my twenties to the recent tales of more contented, if occasionally troubled times. And as this is a first collection, raw in places, sometimes vulgar and sometimes, I have allowed, a shade opaque, I have tried out styles, followed and broken forms, played the sedulous ape (thank you Robert Louis Stephenson). In short, I have drawn a line under my time of life with a shaping of my past into my present and so arrived at my future direction. I think at some point we should all establish that we can say so much. Making this stop, at this station, or at this time of life, has been one of the pleasures, and the more poetry I write the deeper I go into the common journey and, I hope, the better the poetry gets. Reader, Pilgrim, I hope you treat the world so kindly yourself.
‘James is indeed a traveller in an ancient and modern land. A true European, he risks loss of identity in his quest to establish it and in a remarkable series of anecdotes and vignettes we share his struggle in this muscular and fragile collection.’ Peter Pegnall
Pilgrim Station by Dominic James (SPM Publications, 2016) is available from Stroud Bookshop, the Yellow-Lighted Bookshop, Nailsworth, and amazon.co.uk