Archilochus on the Moon explores the tangled roots of lyric. History maintains that Archilochus was the first lyric poet, and in the ancient world he was second only to Homer in terms of poetic reputation. He was a soldier, part slave part aristocrat, who took part in the earliest colonial expeditions. Archilochus was famed for his metrical prowess and invention, and particularly for his association with Iambic verse. But this Iambic practice was no mere metrical observation. In Ancient Greece, Iambic verse was as much a question of subject matter; it was a vehicle for ritual invective, obscenity, abuse and blame. When Lycambes broke off the poet's engagement to Neobule, legend has it that Archilochus wrote such scurrilous poems about the affair, that the entire family committed suicide. His is a nuanced voice, full of many tones and timbres - it tastes of brine, sweat, and handled coins; it has the viscosity of semen.
The basic premise to this book is that Archilochus has been sent - partly as punishment for the havoc his poems have wreaked upon Lycambes' family - into exile to colonise the moon; that pock-marked shield in the dark that gleams unevenly; that curator of lost objects and desires, Jack Spicer's "big yellow eye remembering / what we have lost or never thought." What better impossible site upon which to locate the ageing poet's dissection of hope and desire, and his meditation upon the body that barely houses them.
Simon Perril was born in 1968 and lives in Oakham, Rutland. His previous poetry collections include Nitrate (Salt Publishing) and A Clutch of Odes (Oystercatcher Press). He has written widely on contemporary poetry and poetics, and edited The Salt Companion to John James (Salt). He teaches at De Montfort University, Leicester, and loves silent movies, and noisy music. And cats. His website is at www.simonperril.com
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