Seasons of Damage and Beauty
Paul Surman was born in Oxford where he has lived all his life. He has written poetry since he was a teenager, but first made a serious effort to get his work published when he retired early, in 2004. Since when his work has appeared in numerous magazines. A first collection, Places (Oversteps Books) was published in 2018. He belongs to Back Room Poets in Oxford, and helps organise, and has participated in, their workshops and readings. He maintains it is only partly true that he thinks the world only exists so that you can write poems about it, but is sure that writing poetry is as good a reason as any for being alive. When he is not writing he enjoys walks with his wife Christine, especially in the Chilterns, somewhere he regards as paradise on earth. But he has no interest in otherworldly paradises. Many years ago, in his spare time, he used to manage a nature reserve that was previously part of C. S. Lewis’ extensive garden, but never found any wardrobes there with access to a magic land. He thinks that, even at its most mundane, being alive is the real paradise we sometimes fail to recognise.
Paul Surman's second collection of poems, published in June 2021, is remarkable as a deeply reflective account of a man's inner life. From the first poem: 'LIFE IS A STORY WE TELL OURSELVES BY BEING SENTIENT' to the last, 'INVISIBLE', Paul explores what it is to be human and vulnerable in the cyclical natural world, in the knowledge that
'...where in the last hours of life
I work in the quietest quarter of the wood,
when I have gone, anemones will flower profusely
in spring, and I will never be known again;
except for this flowering and a new season's growth
I will have gone invisibly from the earth.'
And along the way, there are moments of joy, mystery and quiet revelation in the changing light of nights and days and the turning years.
“This is a poetry of question and reassurance. Beauty resides in small moments of disturbance. There are poems that mark the passage of time and the inevitability of death. Many poems here explore the hinterlands of sleep and wakefulness, imagined worlds and imagined states of being.
Surman doesn’t believe in magic, but he is no stranger to magical thinking. He invests “a vast invisibility” with the power to scratch graffiti into the sky amidst birdsong and the quiet business of lives being lived.
A pure and gentle curiosity underpins much of this work.”
— Pat Winslow
"Paul Surman’s new collection settles at the crossroads between landscape and mindscape. Surman witnesses and bears witness to birds, squirrels -- all the small things to whom the land really belongs—with a keen eye and keener affection. His greatest miracle is a blackbird’s song, or a murmuration. He also ponders the imponderables. Night, self, philosophy, light — the poet wanders through them, muses, sits quietly, aware that he is neither more nor less than he is, another animal. An assured, beautiful
— Jennifer A. McGowan
Published 1st June 2021
Paperback, 148 x 210mm, 62 pages
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