Bye-Fellow Ian Patterson shortlisted for Forward Poetry Prize

We were delighted to learn that Ian Patterson's poem, The Plenty of Nothing, has been shortlisted for the Forward Prize for the Best Single Poem.

Read the poem in full:

The Plenty of Nothing

i.m. Jenny Diski, 1947–2016

Pale duty stamps about in plenty of nothing
          like the night when you know everything to time
when each step is beaten off when the rack might add
           more glory and I would watch the stars
not kin nor proof to rule the sphere to know
          by clothes and tea how to cut lino out of them

Now see who has the little boat of love and wave
          adrift more salt at its best splash scornful enough
away on your right to curve well in some hope then
          plunging like blame, my hat tossed up and bent
and lost wires lurid if there ever was one at hand
          to walk with me out of my mind’s eye always apt

Old china caught to seize as springless nature seeps up
         and wells at stake to risk another fire
in a forest of beasts where silent stories end in a beer
         or in dark lists above the clause that starts to die
left to review by me my kindest cut scabbed as a free
         local disguise made naked to suffer for doing just that

You can give it up for hope’s always a bit of web to ignore
          sound into the relief fire bad as you wish for
this lack of a figure in the grip of method on the screen
          to burst out of acid to be like last at the spindle instant
as a gripping vertigo flash vacuum leaves spores in place
          of humanism for us when this frolic unveils payment

End tricky time to get enough pink forms to reconcile
         two worlds of the mind to say the least at work
safe hands on what we know to move abroad like autumn
         leaves the trees revealed at last as a mouthpiece for language
a copy to taste such stress detail at times of less art chat tangled
         to a dead tune in sharp clothes in a space of her own

Make one palp by another hand leaves another letter fail to
         earth what it says out walking on skin debris from two
true stories in matters as if we lavish its fine tip on lungs of art
         to put a stop to his tread or peg out between ruts
in thin sheen as that eye that glass jar screwed cold and dark in pots
         too out all the same with a stump eyed from the window

After midnight it was a baffle or a very good copy in song style
         stapled deep with a mist full of blood for free detritus
flooding slides in capital sequence to watch them drive stout posts
         bleak to look at into the dark ground the black lightless fen
all about the aims of the front bound in like a literary theory
         snarled in rough cuts to earn a living to repudiate

The hoover fades beneath a lethal march off this page
          to another partiality from the air against his masks
to form him now in terror forays or shape him in dumps
         in flame run half afraid on a floor of damp glass a lip
at fault speaking idle threads down to the bona fide dress
         shirt in hand over fist spooning into his face

So would you care to remain here and be consumed
         round the neck as the only route downward like a load
of light verse enduring through barrage and fancy filaments
         twittering in the ceanothus of invention parcels
air bent into aesthetic shapes of this mercy or that or broken
         right apart eaten away starved crushed old mad blind and stamped on

Later level force embraces anybody if that’s true and I agree
         with you out of my hands to where the cities are to play power
splashed out in a witness sense, a complex merit one class say
         or ever becoming a kind of work out loud burning
it from one end to the other just because of skin declaring decay
         that might be a view from nowhere but a day in the country

What was made by us is hanging about covered in ribbons and birdshit
         and aprons all set on this time of night for any other way through
tangles of a seedy mind to hold nothing touched or even true
         to the same life just a door step away from a sheepish mouth
munching a sliver of something carmine and ludicrously
         pastoral as fishpaste or cracks full of dust or an entire bowl

Don’t nod or scramble so ruefully for dupes or lying for the poor
         furtive moon-blush army come again try the view alone
odour of almonds am here am you we’re a monstrous pair of crows
         doubting summer’s purchase a blush in a garden of gleams
sow seeds by the aunt clair path sow the wind in the tender cedar
         rush light charm above the door dilapidated its charm raddled

And see off a dumb tally over a long night’s counting till the sun
         glides the new sand sole account crowned legendary and lost
a film a few saw sheepishly on a blank promise to be better after it
         gilded inside to do as we go into the barrier on a face opens
the book of wishes and glides illegible as badgers in a complex pattern
         buried a bad label a gesture or tab shawl they’d like to escape from

Ignore o secure relief fluid at your age one exists or leaves and will
         dissolve by final flux over you unaided inflicted and not once more
be ever one we hear so much and weep at windows in lost sentences
         ignored in the forests. The words on one level condemn us to death
of the use of them as we must simply know the part in the whole
         devoted to a singular being without being which there’s nothing left.