Saturday, 17 May 2008

Back to 'Community'

I am making my way into Matthew Francis' book about W.S.Graham, managing to reach the end of the section on community this afternoon (after collapsing into bed for several hours, insisting my husband take the children out for a while). Francis explains Graham's need to write as a drive to recover the community that he deliberately removed himself from. I am fascinated by the presence of the (m)other that Francis draws out of Graham's poems and his depiction of language as feminine, as the muse. Francis draws parallels with other works inspired 'lost' working class childhoods, including classics by Hoggart and Raymond Williams. I also find myself picking up Steedman (Landscape for a Good Woman) and flicking through the Anat Hecht Chapter of 'Home Possessions' (Daniel Miller ed), which is about a woman collecting in order to remember a childhood in the Abbeyhill area of Edinburgh:
The buildings' five stairs of tenements were located in the centre of what was
locally known as the 'Wee World'.
The naming of the 'Wee World' is so evocative of everything Francis is drawing together: the lost, ideal community with clearly defined boundaries with the Mother at its centre. Hecht's subject 'Nan' is removed from this community first by evacuation during the war and then permanently by the death of her Mother a few months later. Nan's life seems to have been about recapturing and preserving the early memories before her Mother's death. This yearning to locate in the space of the lost Mother is present in Graham's work and is the central theme of Bracha L. Ettinger's psycohanalysis.

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