At a recent online event which formed part of the 2021 Leeds Lit Fest I joined fellow poets Helen Mort and Jason Allen-Paisant and novelist Anna Chilvers to read and discuss the writing of landscape. Most of the attention was focused on capturing and appropriately representing the characteristics of being in the landscape, including its peculiar exhilaration and, at times, its strangeness. My mind was exercised by the different cognitive experiences which take place in ‘writing the landscape’. In particular I was interested in how our minds revisit or make portable the somatic and cognitive benefit of being in the green space. One of Jason Allen-Paisant’s poems – ‘Daffodils (Speculation on Future Blackness)’ – which he read on the occasion as part of his own re-imagining of Black identity in the English landscape, offers us a re-situating of Wordsworth’s famous poem, one which puts pressure on that iconic figure in the context of the greater diversity and technological amplification of contemporary popular culture. It asks us to readjust to daffodils located ‘in the corner of a sound system in Clapham’ in ‘the hands of a Black family on a Black walk.’ Jason’s poem immediately made me revisit Wordsworth.
Wordsworth’s ‘I wandered lonely as a cloud’ – popularly referred to as ‘Daffodils’ – has already been through various re-imaginings in the two hundred and fifteen years or so since it was composed (without the assistance of Danish lager). In its capacity to take the original vision of the indigenous flowers from outside to in (from the landscape to the poet’s ...
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