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Sam Smith’s intention with the ‘Room’ poems, with each poem and with the series as a whole, was to emphasise the insularity of each our lives and each part of our lives. Having within each poem’s frame, distinctly separate and different images and concepts. Sam Smith’s hope was that some synergistic other would emerge out of this pairing.

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As our world has become segregated, separated; as our daily lives have become fragmented, subdivided into a variety of sub-contexts, so have our thoughts and thought processes. Now, much as political cartoons bring together two topical events for wry humour’s sake, so does poetry (a school of) bring together two, or more, unrelated and apparently disparate images, or ideas, in the attempt to make a single whole poem.

This method has been the self-confessed modus operandi of the psychologist-poet Tomas Tranströmer. Part of the pleasure in reading him, for me, has been to try to separate out the two foundation ideas/images, then to see how he crafted them together to make something other. Using this working method Tomas Tranströmer is usually successful (or he only publishes his successful attempts.)

All too often, however, when other poets try to forge connections where there are none it leads only to non-sequitor poetry; which may be of great creative delight to their author, but can be as meaninglessly tedious as any other list for their reader. Because, although the world’s images may come to us piecemeal, fragmented, still we have a sense of where we are in relation to those images; and we, each of us, imposes our own order-perception upon them. Which is why fractal poetry has a false causa loci – it is not how we perceive.

My intention with the ‘Room’ poems, with each poem and with the series as a whole, was to emphasise the insularity of each our lives and each part of our lives, and to do it transparently, having within each poem’s frame distinctly separate and different images and concepts, the contents/activities described within the room set against the ‘notes for reading’ at their end. My hope was that some
synergistic other would emerge out of this pairing.

That didn’t happen. Instead it led to something else, which can best be described by referring to Damien Hirst’s use of titles for some of his works. One looks at the object he has made for display, then down to the title that Hirst has given it, then back to the object to see what he could have meant by applying such a title to such a work.

Something similar seems to happen with the reading of the ‘Room’ poems. One reads the description of the room’s contents/activities, then the ‘notes for reading’; and, the mind wanting to make sense of the pairing, one’s eye is almost forced back up the page to re-read.

So much for the creative process and outcome.

Regards the process of publication….

The Room poems have been widely published in magazines. Although some editors didn’t understand that the 2 parts formed a whole and insisted on publishing only the room part, while one wanted to publish only a batch of the ‘notes for reading’. While yet others enthusiastically published batches of the whole poems; and the late, and much missed, Ian Robinson, put out an Oasis broadsheet of 11 Rooms.

Before that, however, Stuart Rosamond had invited me to give a talk on the Room poems (and others) to Fine Art students at the Somerset College of Arts and Technology. The students then mounted an exhibition of the work of theirs that had grown out of the talk/reading. Which led, several years later, to Sarah Ward, now studying print at Cardiff University, to contact me through another publisher seeking my permission to use some of the Room poems as a basis for some of her final year work.

It didn’t stop there of course. The collaboration once begun led to other poems being considered for other of her projects, a touring exhibition/reading… And, given the stimulus provided by Sarah’s interest, I began writing more Room poems. I also decided that it was about time all the Room poems were gathered together in a collection.

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Wordcatcher Publishing


'…As, they, stand, the, verse, sections, of, the, various, rooms, convey, the, coherent, and, rewarding, variety, of, a, very, visual, patchwork., However, the, accompanying, "notes, for, reading", have, a, dynamic, and, entirely, different, effect, on, the, reader…, a, lot, of, the, "notes, for, reading", are, amusing, underlining, writers', pomposity, and, loss, of, a, sense, of, irony…, Risks, are, taken, and, rewarded., The, beauty, of, the, book, is, its, ability, to, make, the, reader, think…', ‘For, me, this, book, is, by, far, the, best, thing, that, Sam, Smith, has, done…., The, Rooms, poems, have, a, concrete, presence, while, yet, being, enigmatic, -, they, have, a, sense, of, absurd, ritual., Perhaps, the, aim, is, more, satirical, than, ironic, but, I, have, a, hunch, that, this, work, has, almost, achieved, an, effect, in, excess, of, its, author's, intention, -, might, be, wrong.'


POETRY / European / English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh




Wordcatcher Modern Poetry

3 reviews for Rooms

  1. Sam Smith

    What follows is a poem by Patricia Welles who was inspired to write it after reading Sam Smith’s Rooms collection.

    Rooms by Patricia Welles

    i read Sam Smith’s ROOMS
    the poetry hugging me tightly a boa constrictor’s coil
    i wanted to know his secret messages
    the magical meaning like reading the runes
    at the bottom of the page the poem
    separated itself water from oil
    instructions popped itself
    around me hugging tightly a boa constrictor’s coil
    i fell in love with ROOMS padded/empty
    i fell in love with ROOMS
    the way I fell in love with beautiful snakes
    surfing the sand dunes
    on Cape Cod on a wet afternoon
    what magic was in those ROOMS
    the runes could say
    i held my breath swimming through those ROOMS
    i surfaced at the very top
    there were runes smelling of Eucalyptus oil my
    mother boiled in the bedroom
    on a wet afternoon when my snake died of too much

  2. Will Daunt: Envoi 142

    As they stand, the verse sections of the various rooms convey the coherent and rewarding variety of a very visual patchwork. However, the accompanying “notes for reading” have a dynamic and entirely different effect on the reader… a lot of the “notes for reading” are amusing, underlining writers’ pomposity and loss of a sense of irony… Each “room” asks its own question; each “dialogue” nurtures its own idea. Risks are taken and rewarded. The beauty of the book is its ability to make the reader think…’

  3. Patricia Prime : NHI Online Reiew

    ‘I liked the complex interaction of these various poems. The motive for them are as mysterious to themselves as they are to us; our reaction to the needs of others and our emotional responses, playing God, giving or withholding without clear or systematic grounds, is a nice metaphor for life.’

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