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I have been thinking a lot recently about the career trajectory of poets, including my own, whose work briefly becomes visible then vanishes as quickly as it appeared.

I was reflecting on this especially the other day on picking up another favourite-obscure anthology, Faber and Faber’s Hard Lines 3, edited by Fanny Dubes, Ian Dury and Tom Paulin (1987).

I have always been very struck by the first poem in the book, Caroline Yasunaga’s ‘Morning’. It seems to me a marvellous example of unadorned simplicity, both tonally consistent on its own terms and entirely suited to its occasion.

Ann Sansom has a great workshop exercise involving writing about mornings using the poems of Billy Collins and Jonathan Swift. Readers of this blog will know how much Mark Strand’s ‘A Morning’ means to me. I think Caroline Yasunaga’s poem is up there with them. And I know less about her, or what happened to her and her writing, than I do Susannah Amoore or Shirley Bell.

That is a shame, because ‘Morning’ is perfect.

It is a poem of presence and paying attention. In drawing attention to its own noticing, of ‘gentleness’, ‘greetings’ and ‘fluttering’, the poem requires us to observe what is otherwise forgotten before ‘the day sets in’, transforming its occasion as it proceeds, but never seeking to outstrip it. I can’t ask for more.

 

Morning

 

The gentleness of secretaries in the morning is something

to behold. When they are arriving, fluttering through the

office and settling to their desks. They are cheery when

exchanging greetings and stories. I have noticed the

gentleness of secretaries before the day sets in and

before they are no longer available to themselves.

 

Caroline Yasunaga, from Hard Lines 3 (Faber, 1987)