Recital - An Almanac
Recital - An Almanac
John Siddique is a poet who wants you to read his work, his writing isn’t a puzzle you have to figure out. Gathered in these pages is the work of an artist who believes in stories – our stories.
From the domestic realities of everyday life to a world distraught with crises and confrontation Recital looks at our lives over the space of a year. Drawing on inspiration from Grave’s ‘White Goddess,’ Siddique’s book uses the lunar cycle to tap into the intimate relations of the modern soul; our doubts, hesitations and need for meaning.
Glimpses of inspiration from Larkin, Cummings and Neruda inform the poetry here, but Siddique’s own voice takes those ways of looking at the world and sets out stories of who we are right now in the 21st century.
In a time when so many consider poetry to be of little relevance, here is a writer and a book that has never been more relevant to the questions of today and the people we are. Yet it is with a sensuous and loving eye that Siddique writes about secrets that we almost dare not think about. He reveals the quest for love and the spiritual meaning that underpins us.
Other People’s Children
He is eight and good at football. His mind
flits blacker and whiter than a magpie
from playstation to plastic sword, chocolate,
internet, to nothing to do, to slamming the ball.
He has a will of iron. Can bend his mother’s
and my love for him like plasticine;
when he wears his stick-on tattoos
in the same place on his shoulders as I have mine,
when he calls me ‘old chappy,’ as we scream
through the air as human aeroplanes.
I want so much to show him the world
I know, make it right for him.
Their Dad shows up every now and then,
it blows this family sideways, the guy ropes
twang off their pegs, until morning comes
and the wind dies down, and he goes off again.
I begin planting and parenting. Applying constancy
at the thin end of myself. But here is the boy
on a Saturday morning, next to me in bed,
hugging his mother and I together,
blowing at my chest hair.
© John Siddique 2009
‘John Siddique's poetry takes the reader on a journey, crossing the border country between love and loss, he charts his family's untold stories. Interested in exploring opposite worlds and seeming contradictions, his poetry is a brilliant balancing act. Sometimes steamy, often moving, The Prize is a bold, brave book with a big, open heart.’
Jackie Kay - Poet Laureate of Scotland
'The book’s two related purposes are conveyed in its title. As a recital, these poems masterfully name and celebrate the glorious panorama of intimate yet communal subjects and objects that infuse experience with meaning—a classic role for poetry rendered utterly new in these pages. As an almanac, the poems meticulously catalogue relationships, events, natural phenomena and experiences into measured moments. In this irreplaceable collection, John Siddique creates a time-line for evaporating memories, observations and sensations, and reveals life’s potential to be a hidden gallery...Recital is one of the most important British poetry books of the last twenty years’
Professor Lauri Ramey, California State University at Los Angeles
'Mythology and spirituality run through John Siddique's fourth poetry collection, Recital: An Almanac, which revolves around the lunar calendar. The collection contains thirteen poems marking the passing of each month and celebrating nature and the rhythms of life against war and violence. There is a beautifully balanced, tight piece of writing at the heart of the book: the haunting sequence "Inside". Consisting of four poems about London's 7/7 bombings, it describes the almost unreal moments on the bus, before and after the explosions, explores the mind of a suicide bomber, and leads up to the erroneous police shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes.'
Muneeza Shamsie, The Journal of Commonwealth Literature