John Duffy has worked as a civil servant, social worker, community worker, childminder and bibliotherapist. And he spent several years at home tending to his children and housework, a role he describes as ‘husbandry’.
A native Glaswegian, he moved to Huddersfield (via London) and through a Kirklees PoetryWorkshop met the three other writers who founded the Albert Poets in 1993. The group continues to run workshops in various places and readings in The Albert (the pub nearest Huddersfield Library).
His previous publications are Perpetual Light (Spout), The Constancy of Stone (Nepotism Press), and Troika (Scratch) – with Paul Donnelly and William Park.
John Duffy has the sharp specific glance and deep affinities of a nature poet, but will not be pigeonholed so easily. An undertow of gallows humour keeps ‘the dark side of the mountain’ in the corner of our eye, and gives his gentle wit and celebration a fine edge of question and lament.
John Duffy looks deeply into the world – and beyond it. Whether fantastical, historical, or uncompromisingly here-and-now, Glamourie always has an eye on the extraordinary. A skilful, disturbing, luminescent collection.
The Strength of It
I have tethered the moon: the cable
loops from my fist up into dark,
my eyes trace it, wrist thick,
a dull silver flicker in the gloom
places its arc (one plain long
swag from my hand to the hard basalt
of the highest mountain of the moon
where its hook has snagged
on some unearthly crag) –
I could play it, a trout in a burn
that needs to be wheedled,
coaxed from brown pool
or urgent current, drag it
threshing from its circuit
of silence and ease – or
school it like a horse in a pen,
wheel it, twitch the reins,
bring it round again to dance
in patterns, obey the subtle
muscle flex, the hidden signal,
stand it in one place, keep
the shadow from its face, eye
to eye with that mute gaze – or
moor it like a ship – The Moon –
its lunatic cargo rocks
in its hold, in the tug and drag of all
the different gravities that underpin
the way things are arranged
for now – galaxies, gas giants, dust –
those craters thick as barnacles
crust its enduring hull and keel –
there’s nothing but space between
me and the full moon, the moon’s
my balloon, but oh I haven’t tested
the weight and strength of it yet.
Now like the throb in the breast
of a thrush in the hand, I feel
the pulse and the start of the struggle.
The moon desires to be loosened,
soon, and fade. I’ll see if I can best it.