A. C. EVANS
A. C. Evans was born in Hampton Court in 1949,
and lived in South London until 1963 when he moved to Essex and co-founded the semi-legendary Neo-Surrealist Convulsionist Group in 1966. Moving back to London in 1973, he currently lives in Mortlake, near Richmond. Working in the tradition of the bizarre and the grotesque,
he also considers himself a Realist. Influenced by everything on the dark-side, he is also inspired by the iconoclasm of Dada, revolutionary Surrealism and the immediacy of Pop. He regards all these as points of departure, none as a destination – we live in a post avant-garde world.
His individual author collections include The Xantras (Trombone Press), Chimaera Obscura
(Phlebas Press), Dream Vortex (Tabor Press), Colour Of Dust. Poems And/Or Texts 1973-1997 (Stride),
This Sepulchre (Springbeach Press) and Fractured Muse (Atlantean Publications). The poetry sequence ‘Space Opera’ was made into a digital film and shown at the onedotzero3 Festival at the ICA in 1999.
He considers creativity to be the indirect effect of irrational drives and desires; an infinite quest for self-discovery and, inevitably, an indictment of both established dogma and fashionable orthodoxy. In his extremist, author-centred, poetry and graphics he uses ambiguity, juxtaposition, irony and objective chance to question assumptions about convention, identity and reality – black humour and the absurd are his constant preoccupations.
DARKNESS OR NOTHING
I was alone and the silent street empty;
So, imperceptibly, the faint gleam between
Darkness or nothing mirrored my solitude.
Yet this isolation is haunted
By an echo of your perpetual absence; or
The very trauma of knowing how separation
Blights this benighted city of shadows.
Will you never explain how, yesterday,
As the street-scene changed, mournful cries
Of desperation conjured those lowering
Storm-clouds, sky-high above bustling,
Apathetic crowds avoiding the downpour,
Preventing me from touching you, I say
Reaching you: there, where a dead bird lay
By an open drain, a symbol of consciousness,
Like the cracked-open surface of Time,
Calcified by pain; mute, numb and lost.
This is where logic cannot follow, where
Humiliating declarations of frustrated desire
Follow twisted, jaded feelings, interposed
Again, I say, ‘again’, between us.
I mean ‘You’ and ‘I’,
In this insane incarnation, where
Nothing, not even the dark, can ever
Restore the true nature of your perfection.
Your presence persists in this impossible,
Enclosed space, where a fleeting thought
Amid the transience of awareness is my only
Memory trace…of you.
EXPLORING THE TEXT
The structural arrangement of an urban eclogue
Unfolded in front of us, beneath an overhang
Of neglected adjectives. We saw
Three towering stanzas in the grand manner,
Idiomatic, self-reflexive and embellished
With shiny, metallic neologisms.
A parental advisory notice warned us that
The lyrics were explicit. We wore dark glasses.
Ahead the pathway was clear and the air was alive
With a distinctive cadence – a melodic pattern
Barely discernible at first, but soon to dominate
Our thoughts – our guides refused to go on.
We marvelled at the alloestrophic irregularity
Of nearby deposits, seeing veritable tangles of
Words in irregular rows, including
Many anisometric examples, and several
End-stopped lines leaning over us at crazy angles.
My companion grabbed my arm, pointing in wonderment
At the sky above us: it was turning into an open field, free-form
Cloudscape, both linear and non-linear at the same time.
We had never seen anything like this before.
A caesura appeared in the form of a black, cubic shape,
But we walked by without a second glance.
From a pillar constructed of in-striding lines of text
A sing-song voice with indefinable accents and stresses
Addressed us (or so we thought) in a word-flow
Sometimes a sweet euphony, sometimes a harsh
Cacophany, a dissonant tone-colour that,
We later discovered, permeated the entire structure.
All around there were strange syntactic patterns and
Unfamiliar typographical conventions.
Gigantic capitals in diverse fonts towered over us
The sculpted arches of an enormous building.
The sing-song voice echoed in the recesses
Of this immense, vaulted, visual poem, while.
Beneath my feet I noticed a discarded epigraph,
Neglected now and covered in dusty, ironic, slangy
Fragments of forgotten phrases from previous times.
The atmosphere was uncanny, I sensed the surreal
Presence of condensation but my vision was restricted
By the gathering darkness as we approached the Aporia.
The chronotope had long since collapsed and now
‘Liminality’ was the only term I could think of to designate
Our situation, shuddering with the anxiety of influence,
Struggling to maintain aesthetic distance and perhaps
Even our sanity, in an extraordinary place where all organic
Form seemed over-determined – oh, how I longed for synaesthesia!
“The heresy of the didactic!” gasped my friend.
As though from nowhere a grand narrative, a slimy tentacle,
Wormed its way through the gloom, passing within
A few feet of us, but I knew we were protected by a magic charm,
A talisman, a Darke Conceit – we were the lucky ones.
FLESH CREEP – THE WORLD THE FLESH AND THE DEVIL
The world, the flesh and the devil:
They are my constant companions.
I stare through an open window, and
Feel, in my heart, my creeping flesh,
As a bloated sun wallows in putrid clouds,
As the man next door slashes his wrists
And, somewhere, a dog throws a barking fit.
The world, the flesh and the devil
Are all there is...
I pass through an open door, and
Feel, in my mind, my creeping flesh,
As a withered moon sails a stormy sky,
As the women next door beats her kids,
And a starving cat claws at rubbish sacks.
This world (my world), this flesh (my flesh)
And the devil (is it me?), these
Are my place, my life – and my destiny.
Andromeda is blue and nearer now.
Spheres of light explode across the road.
We pass through every wavelength,
We endure every history
To reach the other side.
But what do we find?
Andromeda is blue and nearer now.
Finally Arcadia faded from view.
Now a pirate princess, Indigo Zenobia
Stripped off her emerald green jacket,
Flexed her thighs
And recited a new sacred text,
A haunting melody
Based on mathematical induction
And revolutionary doctrines
Used to hold the unsuspecting male during mating.
Her fore-wings were made of gossamer,
Her meta-thorax was made of jewels
Ransacked from the secret tombs
Of post-Akkadian governors.
Her voice was well modulated and memorable,
Silver fish and springtails danced in the air,
Forming a halo of falsehood,
Attracting a plague of blood-sucking flies
That multiplied voraciously,
Without the blessing of reproductive organs.
While a sand-wasp recited the king-list
Our brave and determined Princess
Climbed ramparts of timber and rubble
To survey the enemy,
A massed array of spark-ignition engines,
Gas turbines and intricate arabesques.
She quoted the laws of war and neutrality
But to no avail –
The Tree of Light was transformed into
A misty valley in the region of the unbelievers,
Or a brick-vaulted staircase
Leading to the Underworld via a field
Of flowers with hirsute perianths.
Always my centre is fire,
Can you see how it burns?
West London, the present:
We write poetry the way spiders spin webs.
If civilisation is culture without faith,
Then our life is couture without faith. Yes,
This is café society – its perverse feelings
The sinister book-ends of the day-to-day;
Or a futile search for a grain of truth
In a world of shifting sand.
Relatively cool, and so cute
In your microfibre combat trousers
With multi-pockets and side-leg zips,
A fluorescent light glinting on the jewel
In your neatly pierced navel,
You gave me a sidelong glance to die for
While I imagined the planet a blue globe
In space – we all know that the Earth is round
But you claimed it is suspended
In a transparent cube of shatter-resistant,
Extruded plexiglass – sure defence against
Stray asteroids, psychic spooks and passing aliens,
Well, I cannot disagree with you
For I love you, but
Then I noticed a tiny spider, floating down
From the ceiling, a filament of silver,
Trailing through infinity – weightless, exquisite,
Hide your face from me.
You are mine, but I dislike your face.
Exceptional wavelength of love,
Slave mask, this is your identity.
Hide your face from life.
Stained leather mask, a new face,
A face I can trust because
I cannot see your pain.
My pain is all you need now.
It is the question and the answer.
This Dark Tower is your home.
Here we can both suffer.
Do you understand why I
Lick your wounds tonight?
THIRD EYE AMUSEMENT ARCADE MELTDOWN
(For Angela Carter 1940-1992)
Oh, yes quite sharp stick it
Not very funny any more, up, up
And away-hey – your transfigured
Night shirt flames envelope my
Body spotted on a beach at Ipanema
Dark doctrines, mad heresies
Third Eye Amusement Arcade meltdown
Hooky street (viva!)
Free booze, nosh and strippers,
Scam snogging in the palisades,
Costa packet. What if
Exhausted cabin-class travellers collapse
Under seats death threats burnt-out cars
Distant bar room piano tinkling bells
Action Girl slips out of hello can I help
You directoire knickers routine
Into a rain-on-the-rooftops, penal colony
Treadmill, flogging block, massage parlour,
All moans and groans image.
Three-eyed creepy-crawly thingies
Severed hands itty bitty diamond tiara
Dog collar Terry Thomas moustache;
Every inch the ultimate cold water fish.
Slivers of broken whirlpool extinction
Splash across my shivering skyline
Bare branches show it how it is,
Style into trash and back again.
Haunted by the spirit of backbeat
Demolition men crawl through tunnels
Splintered frames deaf mute slow
Drop from stunned nerveless hands
Looks like the politics of death, various
Bright young things
Go bump in the night, speciality of the house.
Naked vision-quest transit tyrant Gloria
Shock therapy haze infectious finest hour,
Torn bus ticket crushed fag ends blank
Inside, just do it camera lucida torn maps
Of inner space, final countdown
Fall apart now: The Rainbow Bridge.
copyright © A. C. Evans