a progress of the sea
Breaker was suggested by the Catalogue of Armed Forces in the second book of the Iliad. I read it in Pope's translation, and was fascinated by the whole idea and the poetry of it. The fascination led to a desire to do something of the kind myself and, casting about for a local battle, I hit on the idea of our self-defence against our eroding coast.
There is, of course, not the slightest attempt to emulate Homer; I have just wished to experience the enjoyment of applying an Homeric concept to our own domestic situation here in Buller. As the situation is real, there is an underlying seriousness throughout the work which does, I hope, make it more readable. The characters who figure in it are all composite beings - though I have placed them in real communities, I know none of them personally.
The eight~line rhyming stanzas which open each portrait are meant to give a light and slightly archaic touch; the 'Legends' are a very distinct element of Buller culture - they deserve a book of their own.
The illustrations, by John Crawford, enhance the text most considerably; they reveal a depth I didn't know was in it, and add both wit and beauty.
Millerton, August 2005
Henry and Nan
You have to be ...
Bridge To The Sea
Published by Heteropholis Press
Further copies may be obtained
From: P.O. Box 367, Westport,
© L. H. Kyle, 2005
Commentary & References:
Letter to Jack Ross (13/9/05):
Here is a copy of 'Breaker'; I hope you enjoy it. I also sent a copy to Scott.
When you asked me the other day about my 'doing something different' you quite caught me out, and I fear that my reply was not very sensible-it is, in any case, something I don't much like to talk about as it's an uncertain matter. In truth, however, I don't see my poetry as such as being anything new, though doubtless it has a fairly distinctive Kyle style; it's the way I manage my poetry that I see as more distinctive.
My aim is to determine that a region can produce and support its own poetry without having to resort to a metropolitan control, and as a deliberate experiment I write from a region that I'm profoundly committed to. There's no sense of disagreement or dissatisfaction with the traditional method of poetry production in this country, but there is the thought that our poetry would be richer if it did include regional culture. It could well gain a higher public profile, and perhaps be enabled to accomplish public goals.
There are obvious anxieties in my procedure, such as the loss of quality through separation from the metropolitan and academic aesthetic criteria and the smallness that localising might produce, but on the whole I think my experiment is worthwhile in itself and might turn out something of enduring worth. My own ability to endure such cultural isolation for much longer is another matter, and I'm working on it, also on the question that is there, in reality, an alternative?
Leicester Kyle, 404 Calliope Rd., Millerton, Buller. N.Z.
Ph. & Fax: (03) 7828 608 or (03) 7828689
Postal Address: c/o Postal Agency, Ngakawau, Buller, New Zealand
The copytext for both facsimile and transcription is my own copy of Leicester's original photocopied text.
- Jack Ross,
Mairangi Bay, March 2012.
© Leicester Kyle Literary Estate, 2012