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Living on the Difference

Authors: Mike Barlow

Published by Smith/Doorstop (The Poetry Business)

ISBN: 9781902382630

£6.95
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‘Living On The Difference shows someone not afraid to experiment within the confines of accepted normality. Low-key domestic scenarios can blossom into indiosyncracy. These are not mere tricks; they are a reminder of the strangeness underlying the world most of us take for granted. Slice-of-life togetherness is re-examined; the matter-of-fact becomes surprising; the ordinary sits cheek by jowl with the extraordinary.’ - Paul Groves

‘This collection has cumulative power, cohesion, and a particular, individual voice. The poems bring in a wide field of reference, which deepens and adds layers of understanding and meaning.’ - Gillian Clarke

Mike Barlow is also a visual artist, working through drawings, paintings and wall-hung constructions.

This collection was the overall winner of the Poetry Business Book & Pamphlet Competition.

Lip-reading at Port an Droighionn


The evening air’s so clear the peaks of South Uist
sit on the horizon like separate islands,
demonstrating how the earth curves.

They change shape as we watch,
tops flatten, grow lumps and limbs,
slopes steepen into cliffs

then stretch blue tapering fingers
along the level slit of sky
they seem suspended over,

demonstrating the particular way
warm air at sea distorts the light,
substituting mirage for reality.

And as the gauze of darkness thickens
I lose your lips’ quotation marks. You speak
and what I hear you haven’t said,

demonstrating what can happen
when you navigate by vowels,
lose sight of consonants.
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