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James Harvey – Mackerelling

Printed: 20 pages, 22.86 cm x 17.78 cm, casewrap-hardcover binding, white interior paper (80# weight), full-colour interior ink, white exterior paper (100# weight), full-colour exterior ink

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A Note on the Poem – James Harvey

The poem more or less wrote itself. Marguerite White sent me cardboard cuttings out in the shapes of sea birds she had used for one of her installations, I had been watching David Attenborough’s The Blue Planet and the idea for the poem came shortly after. At the back of my mind was also Bob Cobbing’s poem ‘alphabet of californian fishes’, (in bob jubile, selected texts of bob cobbing, 1990), though I did not realise this until it was shown to me afterwards by a friend to whom I had previously shown the Bob Cobbing poem as one of my favourite poems. Its influence seemed clear to me.


Harvey’s Ichythological Litany

If a poem veers too long into biological litany, a blurred, a strange environment particular to lists is generated – although a movement of mind across such combinations can be compelling. This potential problem is avoided by Harvey’s Mackerelling in which a counting of singulars knows of no collapse into any over-plentiful chaos. It is a movement through water, a register of speed; the record of a frame which may be a single shot from The Blue Planet; an exercise in naming as pattern, a visual lullaby of taxonomy.


James Harvey studied Biology at UCL. After leaving university, he took up poetry full time, with Ecology (and not Deep Ecology) inspiring much of his poetry. He has had poems in magazines and the ‘In the Company of Poets’ anthology. Poetry now on the web is at Great Works and Openned – in the Openned Magazine and Openned Anthology.

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