These poems are selected from Lectio Violant, a recently completed book of poems, as yet unpublished. Although these four poems happen to draw upon the (former) mining communities of the Yorkshire coalfield for their themes and content, they originated, along with the other poems in the book, as improvisations provoked by contemplative readings of certain chapters of the gospels in the 1611 edition of the King James Bible. Lectio Violant — ‘profane reading’ — is the name I’ve coined to describe this process, alluding to Lectio Divina — ‘divine reading’ — the long-established Catholic practice of devotional reading, the purpose of which is to draw the reader closer to God by enabling a fuller experience of scripture. I’m not sure this book’s doing the same thing, although you never know. Lectio Violant is an impossible compound in Latin, although Google Translate will tell you otherwise. Lectio Violenta is the preferred play on Lectio Divina. But the wilful perversity of Lectio Violant enacts the method and embodies the content and is thus preferred. —S.E.
|The Fortnightly Review
|Published - 30 Jan 2020