National Water / Alex Hampshire

National Water / Alex Hampshire


“One doesn’t get to choose their style. Poetry, preeminently concerned with aesthetics, registers a poet’s style in its very bones. Style is writing’s instrument and mode of expression. Style is an involuntary aesthetic creation. With this introduction to Alex Hampshire’s NATIONAL WATER I’d like to bring a sense of Deep Style– style of the greatest aesthetic importance – to the fore of the reader’s mind. Hampshire’s style is largely syntactic, composed of phrases and the limitless variety of interrelations phrases sustain. In his phrases he loves a relevant irrelevance, and has cultivated a species of opaque but precise criticism, cultural, personal, universal. How like the lumination of one’s consciousness! Hampshire knows that the poet’s thoughts are hardly as interesting as the poet thinking, and when we read Hampshire we are allowed to enact thinking ourselves. Even now, I hardly care what I’m thinking, but the fact that I’m thinking it,- and that it’s about Hampshire’s marvelous poetry! What the poem says is a growth of how the poem says it. The poem speaks in a language tinged with the sardonic, the mundane, the jargon of work-place culture, furniture madness, interior decorating. Hampshire can handle this material, brings rapture from it, impossibly lyrical. His style is not merely assumed, even if he’d like for you to think so. It isn’t obsessed with being relevant, per se. It’s as sincere, arch, foolish- even lovable- as poetry must be. It has the self-awareness

that is the necessary fricative center of any aesthetic art, and that accounts for the real and irreal, the ghosts and the loved ones with which language wracks our lives. This writing is distinctly human. The post- and post-post-human crumble beneath its sweat and musk. It exemplifies not merely the loftiest, but also the only, art.”

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