Tuesday 18 April 2023

Luke Samuel Yates, "Dynamo"


Luke Samuel Yates has published three pamphlets (with The Rialto, Smith | Doorstop, The Philadelphia Institute for Advanced Study), was a Poetry Society Foyle Young Poet on four occasions, and was selected for the Aldeburgh Eight. His first collection, Dynamo, won the 2022 Poetry Business International Book and Pamphlet Prize. He has recent poems in magazines including Poetry Wales, The Rialto, Anthropocene, Ambit and The North, and he has performed at Aldeburgh, Ledbury, Kendal Calling and on Radio 4. A lecturer in Sociology, he teaches and researches political movements, technology, and consumption practices. 

About Dynamo, by Luke Samuel Yates

Dynamo is a collection of poems expressing anxieties about nature, relationships and situations; and meditates on advice from philosophical teabags, men’s magazines, and the city of Birmingham. Over the course of the book, things break down, start again, light up, get stuck. Relationships stagnate, mountains and seas diminish, White nationalists fall over in Blackpool, and a wealthy couple’s house disappears one day, leaving them surrounded by their appliances, tanned and eating an egg. The book has three sections, each of which is actually three chunks of five poems, so the collection builds up in a kind of fractal shape, but you can still read it as you would something which did not do that. 

You can read more about Dynamo here. Below, you can read two sample poems from the collection. 

From Dynamo

The engine gave out when we reached the top.
We were on a B road going over the moors.
Horses grazing on their shadows off West
and in the other direction turbines
gesturing like air traffic controllers.
You walked down the road for a signal.
Mum stayed in the passenger seat
with the door open, drinking tiny sips of water.
Flies kept landing on her hands and hair.
I wanted to brush them away but didn’t want to startle her.
Some way off you found it and called me over.
A swarm the size of a Cantaloupe melon
clinging to the trunk of a hawthorn. A ball
of bees, chocolate and khaki, barely moving
but all pointing in the same direction.
A planet of traffic jams. Going somewhere
but also not going anywhere. We watched
as some left and others arrived,
ignoring us, figuring out
what to do next.
If only we could work together
to get out of this fix, you said
when we were back on the road,
back on the motorway, with all
the other people, in their cars. 

Song about putting a bird in a pie

A relaxed mind is a creative mind,
says my inspiring teabag. Yours advises
to empty yourself and let the universe fill you.
We pick up the empty flowerpot on the road
and a man in a dressing gown eating tomatoes
leans out of a window and demands
that we put it back. I ask him if it’s his pot.
Put it back, he shouts. Put it back.
Each smile is a direct achievement,
I remind him. He replies that gratitude
is the open door to abundance.
We carry on walking.
We get onto the future.
When should we panic?
Reading the tea leaves, you say that
happiness arrives when we overcome
the most impossible challenge.
Your bag has exploded.
You look at things in such a way that you are not
distracted by being looked at looking at things.
The blackbird sings a phrase then repeats it
like a monolinguist talking to a foreigner.
You can’t believe anybody would even
write a song about putting a bird in a pie.
The man from the takeaway under my flat
has climbed into his bin to compress
the rubbish in order to fit more in.
He walks from one side to the other
then back again, like an animal
trapped in the hospitality industry.

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