I’ve finally had some quiet rainy day headspace to mull over Fires, an exquisite work by Deryn Rees-Jones with images by Charlotte Hodes. It is hard to pin down exactly what Fires is. You might call it a long poem, a lyric essay or a collage of ideas about the nature of poetry. It draws on a variety of texts, including works by Bishop, Forrest-Thomson, MacNeice and Plath, and weaves questions from Ricoeur, Deleuze and Guattari, Riley and Pater amongst many others. The origins of the piece sprung from conversations between Rees-Jones, Hodes and their colleague Rosi Braidotti, whose Nomadic Theory (2012) is also referenced. Her comment that ‘Poetry is a kind of stillness’ provides a starting point for Rees-Jones’ exploration of the philosophy of lyric poetry. The piece has many spaces for you to pause and ponder. It’s a rewarding work to take your time over and to return to.
Fires is both a gorgeous little hardback book (published by Shoestring Press) and an animated video which formed part of The Errant Muse exhibition that was held at the Victoria Gallery and Museum at University of Liverpool in 2019-2020 and closed early due to Covid-19 restrictions.