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The Theological Museum

The Theological Museum

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Strongly championed by Carol Ann Duffy, Alice Oswald and John Wakeman among others. Paul Stubbs is very much a poet of the new millenium. His work reads like a report from some Beckettian post-world in the process of becoming detached from orthodox values and meanings. Stubbs's 'theological museum' is a place were dislocated fragments of traditional religion and metaphysics are put on display like broken pieces of sculpture in a museum of antiquities. A number of poems in this debut collection have 'religious' titles, but Stubbs's disturbing approach is comprhensively radical. This radicalism is evident in his rejection of conventional ideas about form and poetics - his disregard of 'anything that smacks of poetical correctness', as Alice Oswald puts it in her Foreword.

To articulate his uncompromising vision, Stubbs wrestles with language, dislocating it from normal rules of grammar and syntax as though inventing a new idiom in a new age.

Paul Stubbs was born in Norwich, where he now lives. He left school at sixteen and worked in various jobs around the country before starting to write. His poems have appeared in numerous literary magazines, and in 2002 he was one of thirty-seven British poets commissioned by the Globe Theatre in London to write a poem commemorating the bicentenary of Wordsworth's sonnet 'On Westminster Bridge'. He has written adaptations of two classical Greek plays, Euripides' The Bacchae and Aeschylus' Prometheus Bound, and also a radio play, The Messiah. He is currently working on a free translation of Dante's Paradiso.


'...what is it my soul feels?' (Pessoa)

Since your birth, I have lived here,
inside of you, your internal shadow.
Dreaming of the day, when (like a cripple
who runs off each leg-brace, mirac-
ulously cured) I'll run off finally,
the restriction of your human bones. Praying for you
each day, to quicken up in some
way the process of your own life.

Hoping for you, maybe, to flirt
a little with God, by dropping your flesh
like a dress from your shoulders;
as if by doing this you might be

able to swing it for me, my early
entry into heaven. But no, nothing to do but wait;
a prisoner behind flesh and bone.
While sometimes I sit, hand on chin,

just staring off into your within.
Imagining each nerve-end, as you breathe,
to be a grass-blade on some celestial plain.
And, though beneath you, you can-

not feel a thing. But imagine it,
my form lodged within each fissure
and every cleft. Where sometimes
I hide, when startled, suddenly seeing myself

by accident upon the backward mirror
of your eyes. - But something at least
to relieve this inferrnal human boredom.
And so this is how it goes on,

day after day, myself, a mendicant:
crouched down deep in your insides,
a shunned form, a form un-boned
no use to your world.