Young Poets Network

Posted 28.04.11 in Writing

‘That Man’ by Helen Bowell

That man grasps that man’s a pawn,
that dawn’s a handstand and star-fall’s my lawn;
that days fall by glass, sand and landmass stacks that
wash past drawn swans and art and
what a lady says and can’t
and sand-cast brass bands.

That man grasps that man’s an ant.
That man grasps that land’s a lamb

and man’s gravy.

That man’s a vagrant. Walk away.


Helen Bowell wrote ‘That Man’ in response to Ross Sutherland’s Univocal Challenge.

Ross Sutherland says: Some exciting unconventional images here. I love “sand-cast brass bands” and “dawn’s a handstand”. This poem makes me think of Allen Ginsberg’s technique of “eyeball kicking”, which he developed after looking at some paintings by Paul Cézanne. Ginsberg noticed in viewing Cézanne’s paintings that when the eye moved from one colour to a contrasting colour, the eye would spasm, or “kick”. Likewise, he discovered that the contrast of two seeming opposites was a common feature in haiku. Ginsberg used this technique in his poetry, putting together two starkly dissimilar images: something weak with something strong, an artifact of high culture with an artifact of low culture, something holy with something unholy. I think the poet’s ability to work in this way shows that they were able to take risks, go on their nerve, and work organically with the constraint to produce unexpected results.

Comments (1)

One Response to “‘That Man’ by Helen Bowell”

  1. Sherrie says:

    oh HELEN!
    *shakes fist*

    gah, it was too lovely ;___;