by Gerry Loose
Dimensions: 198 x 130 mm
Publication: 22 September 2014
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Gerry Loose’s sixth collection maps the fault line dividing man from his environment. His territory is the Gare Loch in Argyll and Bute, its outstanding beauty at odds with the Faslane submarine base on its eastern shore, home of the UK’s nuclear arsenal. The beauty of the area coexists uneasily with the knowledge that it also harbours weapons that can reduce their target to radioactive ash. This tension has inspired a book-length poem that probes the delusions of the political and military classes. Loose explores the countryside surrounding Faslane, his hymns to its beauty only throwing into sharper focus its fragility. He describes a land poisoned by the “deterrent” meant to protect it. In so doing, Loose has reinvented nature poetry for the twenty-first century. Not content merely to evoke the landscape’s charms, Loose reconnects with the political roots of romanticism. Blending psychogeography with Tom Leonard’s radicalism, Fault Line reinvigorates the tradition, finding in it, as Burns and Wordsworth did, a radical critique of the present.
“Fault line is a very special piece of work. It feels as if this is a book born of a decade or more’s looking and watching (surveillance). I relish the form: field-note, jotting, face-off, counter-movement. There’s movement across the sequence, but no neat arc, and somehow over 100 pages there’s no sense of repetition in the sense of stagnation, though of course the whole is bound and patterned by its recurrences — the white hart, the wild-flowers, the subs. Words flit and slide, ‘fault’ is not pure division but a kind of friction and slippage that is productive of vision as well as signalling separation and mutual harm. The atomic dark-stars of the submarines versus but also because of the glowing white deer. It’s a poem — poems — of menace and mixture and anger, that finds its way into the immense complexities of contemporary ‘nature’, recording the beauties born of collision, while also keeping room for ‘old aesthetics’. I heard shades of Buile Suibhne, hints of Mercian Hymns, though it is of course its own thing also. And there, too, were glimpses of domestic life lived on amid all this: kindling split, beans shelled, sights seen — the registration of ‘enduring beauty’ hard up against ‘danger of death'.” — Robert Macfarlane
"An unlikely choice for one of my top three, because at first Gerry Loose’s poetry seemed too spare and abstract for my liking. In fact, it turns out to be a multi-voiced and highly textured sequence about the natural life of the (human as well as non-human) inhabitants of the area round the Faslane nuclear base. One of the themes emerging out of the Half a Hundred Herbs project is that herbs are often used as tokens of resistance (to pollution, over use of technology, authoritarian thought systems) and Gerry Loose has just about nailed it as far as I can tell." — Elizabeth Rimmer, Burnedthumb.co.uk