Feria de Malaga

By Miriam Gamble

A new commission by Miriam Gamble as part of the 'Crossing Borders' series.

Fuck knows what it’s all about but if you really want to drink Cartojal a beaded bag ought to be purchased for our wits given how everybody here’s like their inner head fell off. Even at the best of times, and it’s hardly the best of times, someone is as apt as not, you know it, to un-lever the stone under which we’re hunkered for the purposes of building a low wall or hiding stuff. They won’t mean to kill us, they’ll only want to sleep when it’s too cold to sleep without a wind-deflecting wall, or to bury things they covet and have nicked from a neighbour such as say, perhaps, a wife, a jammy roll, a frame like a resplendent crust. But in the way we’re in the way and love, that’s life in a universe of cold calculation so you keep your wits about you and you don’t drink Cartojal or potions of its ilk saving you must, as for example now.

Los caprichos: Subir y bajar, 1799 - etching and burnished aquatint on laid paper

Feria is carnival, a Dionysian outburst; the rules are not suspended, quite, but different. The big are small and the small big, nobody is what or who they usually are. Carnival rules – and, perhaps, poem rules – invert the norm. 


I like playing with scale. The lyric poem is a small vehicle, and I like to see, in it, through a small eye. I believe the small eye, and the small I, matter. Poems, for me, are things that sprout up in the cracks between:

– Hello!

– Who and what the bejaysus are you?

– I might ask the same.


The things I unite in poems are things the rational me would never dream of linking up. But I trust the connections my poem-mind makes much more than I trust my logical self. Poems, as Edward Hirsch says, are made of metaphor: in them, A is B. By seeing A as B and vice versa, we knock out of our eyes the scales of habit, or go some way to doing so.


I love Lorca, Goya. I don’t value oddity per se but the bid to catch in words or notes or strokes that other reality which is everything to us yet because we can’t close our ten fingers round it we treat it like it’s nothing. Prose poems lure because they foster the surreal. They’re also mint for syntax – the endless stretching out and out and out thereof, like a bungee for the mind.


To warp, to fankle. To ruffle the idea that we’re the hub of the world’s spokes; that this sanctifies our doings; that the kinds of things we do will never be done unto us, because, after all, we’re us – the chosen ones. Aren’t we?