Still

Christopher Meredith

Many though not all of the poems in Christopher Meredith’s collection, Still, explore the web of meanings in the word ‘still’. They meditate on the paradoxes of stillness and motion, on the capacity of memory and imagination to hold life apparently still and the struggle in art to achieve the power implicit in that to connect with the things of the world in a contemplative intensity.

The distillation of a recurring memory of an old man in the title poem becomes simultaneously an intensification of reality and a denaturing of it. Horseshoe crabs on a nesting beach in New England have reached their biological niche, at an evolutionary standstill for millions of years, but live in blind struggle. A Victorian engraver loses his mind attempting to fix his changing native Cornwall forever in his illustrations. In ‘Standing room’, in entering the still room, the stanza, of a poem, we enter a fixity in which we ourselves, as authors or readers, become transient onlookers. Breughel’s winter paintings invite us both to enter a timelessly frozen world and to understand its liquidity which we both observe and are part of.

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