Peter Porter died and no one told me. He died on the 23rd April 2010, the same day in history as Shakespeare burst out of the womb and the same day of death as Cervantes and William Wordsworth. I’m not going to write out his obituary, that’s here (OBIT).

When I first read this guy I couldn’t stand him, he was laden with a morose humour left over from the Mersey Poets and his lines were far too complex; jumping from one perception to another too quickly for the eye to the ear to the brain to follow. He was someone I’d put next to Carol Ann Duffy and her Onions.

Stick with him though, he’s a good granddad; a treasure chest full of stories held tongue tight; the key somewhere in the back of his throat and at first, you don’t really have much to talk about and so you sit silently with him and watch the speedway then COUGH out comes this huge saga of a tale from the golden age erupting with images and people you’ve never heard of but can see as clearly as if they were punching you on the nose.

To find him, you’ve got to start at the beginning. Once Bitten, Twice Bitten is as good as any gallery I’ve ever walked around; it’s got the pretty women, crudités and the free glasses of wine too.


Here is the body fearfully beautiful

The pushy you of just nineteen –
How could you know, in shin or skull,
What's dead already in the sheen?

Immersed in time, we question time
And ask for commentators' rights.
The amoeba has a taste for slime
Among its range of appetites.

It's always too early to die – Oh, yuss!
Says Churchill, dew-lapped TV hound
To The Man on the Clapham Omnibus –
The ice-cap's melting; seek high ground!

The relief of growing old – it's easy
To take long views and shun the short.
Consult the frescoes in Assisi:
Ignore the Kinsey and the Hite Report.

Like Auden, I have always felt
The youngest person in the room.
His too too solid flesh might melt
And show him God. I'll need a tomb.

"Senex Scintillans" – we're bright
As glazing on a Peking Duck.
The Elderly insist Insight
Is not worth much compared to Luck.

Hers is a most convincing face,
"Col tempo" lightly in her hand –
Age lived-through need show no trace
Of lines time likes to draw in sand.

Who is this young architect
At work on death's blank inventory,
Correcting everything correct?
It is Thomas Hardy, OM, he!

"Gone is all my strength and guile,
Old and powerless am I."
So, Joseph Haydn – all the while
Comes "Laus Deo" in reply.

The greyness of the sky is streaked
Along its width with shades of red;
The pity of the world has leaked
But who are these whose hands have bled?


He didn’t need one, he was an animal,
The animal which outmanoeuvred Europe.
But in the photograph, as on a boot-polish lid,
The ostrich struts cross-legged, a mapping stool.
Harar is four thousand miles from Paris
And just a Metro ride from two World Wars.

We should ask the ostrich what it thinks
Of scholarship, of lurid nights with absinthe,
Of being in the months of love for essay prizes,
The coal-smoke-crystalled walls of Camden Town,
The semi-educated painters jetting in
To put some Prester John in Cork Street daubs.

France deserved this tribal fetishism,
Its language had become mere logarithm,
Its classicism a blunt guillotine.
Supposing Rimbaud met Sir Richard Burton,
They would have riden ostriches round town
To startle the solared anthropologists.


Abner Jay once claimed the secret to his eternal youth and vitality was to scoop the water from the Suwannee River in his home state of Georgia, and drink it whilst sprawled out on his belly. He did this everyday. He spent his musical career travelling across the the southern states of America in a converted mobile home, performing out the back of the vehicle with its door folded down. He passed away in 1993, and urged audiences to 'Hurry up and get your record.... they'll be worth a lot of money when I'm dead'. The 'True Story of Abner Jay' was reissued last year on Mississippi records.




I've been following Knežević's photographs for a while now and every time he travels to a new country, he produces these most wonderful vivid images that present very subtle representations of the corners of his travels. He is constantly updating his blog