‘Viewpoint’ by Rowland Bagnall

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EVENT: We’re celebrating Carcanet’s New Poetries VII with a reunion event at the Bookshop on Tuesday 18 June, featuring poets Zohar Atkins, Rowland Bagnall, Isabel Galleymore, Lisa Kelly and Phoebe Power. Book tickets here. Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be featuring a poem from the collection by each of the poets who’ll be reading – check back regularly for the next one.

Viewpoint

In Rear Window (1954), Alfred Hitchcock suddenly looks at us
through the glass frame of an apartment penthouse, somehow
somewhere other than behind the camera’s lens – viewed from
the perspective of James Stewart’s binoculars – all but invisible
to anyone who doesn’t know it’s him. Always make the audience
suffer as much as possible, I thought, rains beginning on the roof.

From up here I could see a skydiver looking backwards at a plane
as if it was falling away from him and not the other way around.
The air was the same temperature as I was, still breathable and
warm but lightly thickening with something else, like vapours
pouring slowly from a car’s exhaust. Away to the right I swore
I could see the monstrously reclining figures of a sculpture park,

misshapen and decayed, the stones displaying marks left by
the hurricanes of several years ago. Around the moment of
deployment, the parachutist feels a brief instance of shock
between the pulling of the ripcord and successful opening
of the main canopy. Convinced the mechanism has finally
failed, he tries to recall a succession of emergency techniques

before – at last – the canvas swells, jerking freefall to violent
and relieving halt. Throughout the film, a pianist composes
a song called ‘Lisa’. His voice is never heard, appearing only
in long shots through the window. He seems to live alone but
for the brief appearance of the filmmaker standing several
feet behind him, winding an old clock on the mantelpiece.

New Poetries VII’ is published by Carcanet, price £14.99. Zohar Atkins, Rowland Bagnall, Isabel Galleymore, Lisa Kelly and Phoebe Power will be reading from the collection at the Bookshop on Tuesday 18 June. Book tickets here.

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