Circling the Core
Enitharmon Press, 2008 OP
This book explores the idea of core. It opens with a sequence called Core which is inspired by the sculptures in her garden in St Ives. It explores the different meanings of core and the theme recurs in a poem which tries to capture the sense of what a bird is, searches out what lies at the heart of memories, fraught contemporary situations, ancient places and dream visions. The same need to investigate underlies poems about women’s experience. These include a narrative, Hotel and a monologue, Eurydice’s Version.
Listen to Bird, broadcasted on the BBC Radio 3’s Breakfast Show – Friday Poem, April 5th, 2019:
after Stringed Figure (Curlew) by Barbara Hepworth
I am wings
springing from breast, sweeping back, each curve echoing
the other. Meaning is space.
As I thrust forward my wingspan unnerves you. As I soar
do you yearn to encompass my power?
I enfold head and heart in flight. Map out
my hungers and dangers, the complex of my parts. Feel my weight
bone mesh, skeins of blood, speckle and lie of feathers.
You will never explain the egg
where I began, dig out the deeply bedded knowledge
that guides me through dark and light.
Hold me down
and I will rise up above the crests on fierce waters,
above the sheer of rocks, above the heave and scramble of moors.
And I will be
here, there, within you, everywhere,
my flung wingtips longing to come together,
striving to complete a shape as I pierce and pierce the blue rush.
“Here is a poetry who puts heart and soul into the quarrel with herself. This is her richest and most assured collection to date; she makes her demons take responsibility; she finds vision and truth in the secret places where they hide. The core at the centre of this book (be it molten core or sheltering nest) is poetry, the central imagination by which we explore and comprehend the world, even if we can never bite to the core. Language is the core of our being and this book sustains that fact. I commend the searing honesty of the enterprise.”
Penelope Shuttle in Artemispoetry
“Myra Schneider opens with a marvellous response to Barbara Hepworth’s sculpture which, after tracing the curves and lines of the material reality, worms its way to a centre, a still point, “jewel, kernel, womb, unshielded self.” For Schneider, the kernel is that ‘unshielded self’, the authenticity of lived experience.”
Martyn Crucefix in The North