Poetry and Drama

The Harm Fields: Poems

David Lloyd’s poetry abides in a lineage of poetic modernism, often in dialog with poets like César Vallejo, Paul Celan, and Mahmoud Darwish. The poems in Dark Room are rich in imagery, their language a fluent mix of registers, from colloquial idiom to technical language and literary citation, and replete with multilingual puns and portmanteaux. These poems carry forward the musical values and the questioning project of modernist lyric, but their concerns are contemporary, haunted by the ongoing brutality of the times, from Ireland to Palestine, and reaching for a language adequate to mourning, persistence, and utopian possibility.

First comes a kind of prelude, a prose consideration of language, identity, belonging, history, that grows up and out from local Irish and European origins. Then comes the cold, clear note of the poetry, and there is no point at which this isn’t poetry. Once launched, it never hesitates to explain itself or to doubt its own adequacy, it just moves. Material images dominate the verse, but their gravity is lightened by a play of relations made possible by an exactitude of sound, image, and echo that “sing / out from the nought rim spelling / with numbers”. There is a deep comfort in a language so inhabited, but it is not an easy one. 

—Trevor Joyce, author of What’s In Store

Forthcoming from Georgia Review Books, September 2022.

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Arc and Sill: Poems 1979-2009

Paperback, 150pp, 9x6ins

David Lloyd’s two recent chapbooks, Sill and Vega, have seen his poetic writing develop a constellated elegance, drawing on the European dialectical lyric for the resonance of key terms such as ‘sill’, ‘lintel’, ‘sheet’, ‘flock’ and ‘stone’ but on American objectivism for its precisely-punctuated prosody. While David Lloyd can be a mighty polemicist in scholarship, his poetry is noteworthy for its extreme linguistic scrupulousness.
~John Wilkinson

Intellectual, sensuous and knowing, David Lloyd’s poetry shimmers across a lyric ‘I’ that disappears/reappears, where conventions are toyed with, suggested, then drowned in alternative possibilities. ‘Molten gold was threaded into foundations & seams gleamed in the mortar. Mother mother they cried &/drained away the vital flux into the soil’.
~Maurice Scully


Furrow Archive

The trio of sequences, Furrow Archive, honors Ezra Pound’s dictum, “Dichtung = condensare.” Concentrated, apparently slight lyrics and epigrams open onto wider fields and time scales, from the geological in Kodalith to the relation of interiority, music and history in The White Note. Light writing in stone, the furrows the poems carve constitute an archive of the instant meeting with duration in “momentary branchings of the breath.” Smoke drawings by Jessica Huang.


Sample from Bar Null

Morning thunder joins the peaks, copula
of rain raises the earth in a bright
snatch of decay. The tenanted house
is mildewed, filming of damp moss sweetens
the granite step. This you must take now,
stone by stolen stone, and tumble: dis-
mantled rock rolling uprooted down the slope.
Seated in solace, bent to his yeasty kieve,
master of fermentations breaks it down: haloes
of wort-rings unfold through the litmus, this
nonsense-mediated decay tense with the ash
of things, raven chatter hectoring the tepid
cloud. I tell you, he found his real face there
down by the sluggish waters, in the dank retort,
till your white head silent and your set jaw
stared everything down into its sullen earth.

Anna Gallwey, “passenger” (detail), monoprint on rice paper, c. the artist, 2018.

The Press / Le Placard

Dans un espace carcéral indéfini, camp de concentration ou prison ultra-moderne, qui est aussi un chantier de construction, deux prisonniers, Ancel et Gruber, se tuent au travail. Ils bâtissent le futur Palais de la Culture à la gloire du Boss, le dictateur d’un régime sanguinaire dont Ancel fut jadis le poète officiel, avant d’en découvrir toute l’horreur et d’entrer en résistance. Quant à Gruber, peintre prolétaire, il fut un dissident de la première heure, et continue à protester depuis sa prison en peignant le chaos ambiant de tous ses fluides corporels. Le huis clos entre les deux hommes est interrompu par les visites des émissaires du Boss — Feck, le gardien de prison sadique, Petra, la fille du Boss et ancienne maîtresse d’Ancel, et Hamm et Sham, les deux clowns grotesques qui furent jadis ses élèves avant de vendre leur âme au Boss — qui se succèdent auprès d’Ancel pour le convaincre de renoncer à sa posture de résistance : il suffirait qu’il écrive un seul poème à la gloire du Boss pour sortir de prison. La pièce se souvient de la montée des totalitarismes et des grands cataclysmes humains du XXe siècle, mais aussi, obliquement, de l’attitude intraitable du pouvoir britannique face au combat des prisonniers républicains irlandais au début des années 1980. Allégorie tragique et burlesque sur la responsabilité de l’artiste face au pouvoir, elle s’inscrit dans la grande tradition du théâtre irlandais, à la suite de W.B. Yeats et de Samuel Beckett, mais invente un langage dramaturgique singulier et éminemment contemporain en détournant les codes du réalisme.