WN Herbert’s latest book is in fact two books which – almost – share the same title - Omnesia (Alternative Text) and Omnesia (Remix) (both published by Bloodaxe, £9.95).
He describes the book(s) as “a punk experiment” that draws on the culture of the mash-up, remix, and director’s cut. Both books can be read individually, but when read together, their poems are seen in a new light. In “Sklent” he unhappily contrasts his adopted hometown Newcastle’s shipbuilding past with what has replaced it.
Sometimes, coming home in Shields,
I glance down Stephenson Street
toward its open view across the Tyne,
and a sudden tower blocks my eye, its windows
blind as termites, building under glass.
Sliding like a berg in parallel, it keeps pace
so when I turn right for my house,
Beacon Street’s already stoppered up
until my doorstep shows the whole ship,
blue-funneled, bound for Norway.
Once in, the senses of the old word ‘sklent’
stare at me from the dictionary, like faces
skelling from the photo of the Wallsend yard:
it means both sidling and the sidelong glance –
I recognise our angle to its wake.
You can borrow Omnesia (Alternative Text) and Omnesia (Remix) by WN Herbert from the Scottish Poetry Library, 5 Crichton’s Close, Edinburgh EH8 8DT. Tel: 0131-557 2876, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or see www.spl.org.uk for details.