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Reitha Pattison


Reitha Pattison was born in London in 1977. She lives in Cambridge with her partner and baby son. She manages the translations list of a local academic publishing house. Word is Born is her first collection of poetry.


Cambridge, 2006

This recording was made on 21 October 2006 in Cambridge.


Word is Born, with Michael Kindellan ( Arehouse Press, 2006)

Sample Text



Bless me, if it wasn't a voiceless sign
in commas, carnally senescent.
A lightening alveolar plosive
followed, that and the sweet
nothings of our verger, the Catalan
in charge of vocal operations
at every feast of St. Carla.


so the messages went.
No one needs dissonance. It breaks out
in a talent for perky Bergian coloraturas.
When the controlled breath fizzes
against the jugular vein, coming
out in lies, Quo Vadis?
I'm not staying in Normandy,
this buttock of a department,
to acquire an ascetic, cardinal
dinari of a bon-bon patois.
I'll find a member's bar
between Biarritz and the Dordogne
and regret.

Arias don't stand a priori.
Druids and Cossacks sang
alike with temerity and without
that waxy Burgundy drawl
through the vertiginous voile
of sestet and terza rima.
I've heard gushing egressive bars
float through some great big mandibles
in the reptilian pogues of Mantua.

The ennui of a Homeric villanelle
can be delivered in an amusing
indistinguishable Walloon gabble
or have the touch of Midas
if called forth in the voluble
Gasconian twang, or Bretton,
some high-falutin argot.
Despite my asthmatic Schwabian
song, it's still more sonorous than
the paucity of any soapy Lombardy
vulgarisms. Limoges has a fine
eary slang : silica falling over Jaffa oranges.


M E T H O D  N U M B E R  O N E


The unfailing words of foot soldiers
never cost more than a garlic clove.
We've learnt one artistic method
brother and cousin to this other craft.
They share these qualities:
topical occasion and mesh.
When we're paid in one capacity
the other is expected to follow.
Every day contentious and over a barrel
worn out by my aegis
my incorrigible fame
as I substructure my country
with my art. I jot
down my isotopic trees
I lick my great soul pale
I've no enemies craven
or lowbred enough to molest me.

Tallyrand doesn't scamper any more
doesn't mount his bay mare
doesn't practice with his big knife.
He's not even seen at court.
He's such a boring crease of a man;
ugliness is when the others leave
and one becomes distempered.
William, crazy pugilist
with me at our last rout:
we'll battle again, if God keeps me.
Perowne, equally all in for folly and mustard,
how your mortise closed hard on
The dewy viscount and that tart of a page
who would sit on his old battle wound.


All my senses eviscerate
on my serrated blade.
I'm back in the great clash
between old king asthma and Richard.
Long ago I was held in high regard,
but these sword monkeys with their defamatory patter
and childishness, won the king's ear and stole
my share of the glory.
At Piros, near to the wall
what a battle royale we had
with those canting bohemians.
Wanton took it against By Art.
We found the Vine
scalped. The shaft of my sabre
did some pruning
right under the head of fey Bartholemew
his brain pear-like and malleable.

Risoles and oxtail,
barons with their cutlets and their quails
and their filthy reformed creed
in isinglass sauce. It was stupid of me
to hold them in esteem. They work
off the fear of hard esthetic graft
(both kinds) and carry the flagellant
chains of St. Leonard
to lessen the zealotry and chafe
of their affictions. Barons, false gods
with your salt and your cheap
restaurants and your aioli
and your overcooked gallantry,
with no due respect I say: Richard,
you're a derisory little grail sucker.


"... an absolutely gorgeously made book, nicely set and elegantly weighted. And the concept, maan, is a serious hoot. Eight poems by notorious troubadorial schism-sower Bertran[d] de Born (I go with the authors in favouring 'Bertrand', I think; 'Bertran' sounds too much like a blue-collar programming language), translated independently by Pattison and Kindellan, and the two utterly divergent versions printed cheek-by-jowl, Pattison on the left-hand page of each spread and Kindellan on the right. There are huge swathes where it's impossible to imagine the two translations sharing a source text at all: and wherever there are more openly apparent momentary connexions, they only serve to recharge, rather than dispel, the tensions between the two sets ... It's a terrific project, full of movement and robust -- promiscuous, I almost said -- camaraderie. I still hate poetry, after all that, but mostly because so little of it is as rewarding as Word is Born." -- Chris Goode, in 'Thompson's Bank of Communicable Desire' 17 July 2006.

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