Tom Bennett’s ‘Travelling Light’ is the Pick of the Month for June 2019!

It was the superb imagery, the hypnotic rhythm, the sense of mystery and the way Tom Bennett painted ‘an incredible picture of an ordinary scene’ that caught the imaginations of voters and saw ‘Travelling Light’ as the IS&T Pick of the Month for June 2019. This was a poem you could go back to again and again.

Tom (23) studied English at Durham University for his undergraduate, before doing an MPhil in American Literature at Cambridge. He is currently teaching English in Spain and will start a PhD on Women and Maximalism in American literature this October.

Tom has asked that his £10 ‘prize’ be donated to Mermaids.

 

Travelling Light

A balloon scuds through the train
an ‘L’ it is or is it a ‘7’? Evasive
though its wake is empty of pursuit
and the door gives way courteously.

In the second carriage a class
of children who gorge hard on toffee,
their waddle the product of a tight-laced boot
their flannel shorts a competition of kites.

In the third two entangled amours
soak themselves in saccharine red wines,
and remark upon the odd anatomy of the other’s ear:
the softness where the cartilage should be.

A sharp halt rocks these realities,
leaving bags topsy-turvy and a glass in smithereens,
awakening a wizened conductor
clutching the one string of a balloon shaped ‘0’.

*********

Voters’ comments included:

Evocative, thought provoking, an air of mystery about it.

I love the imagery and techniques that Tom evokes and uses fluently throughout, and these are scenes that I could identify with.

Tom manages to make this piece feel effortless despite its complexity. I really enjoyed reading.

Tom has the ability to make the reader relate to the content of his poems…. brilliance

Beautiful and clear imagery yet laconic language

A rich sensory journey!

A lovely narrative poem that leaves you a little lost, empty.

I thought it was clever, I liked the way sounds were played with.

I feel nostalgic for someone’s else’s past

Beautiful rhythm that rocks to the beat each carriage. More than a journey…

Evocative, thought provoking, an air of mystery about it.

I love the imagery and techniques that Tom evokes and uses fluently throughout, and these are scenes that I could identify with.

Tom Bennett’s ‘Travelling Light’ is disarmingly guileless. Though the poem’s title offers a vision of levity, its lines gather an increasing emotional weight. Its emotional depth is gained as a result of a careful sequencing of images rather than rhetorical embellishment: a contemplation over ‘an “L” it is or is it a “7”’, the ‘class | of children’, the ‘two entangled amours’. These passing moments come to exist for their own sake. And ‘Travelling Light’ captures the irreducible fragility of such moments: a fragility born more from an acute valuation of their particularity than their immediate transience. From the dangling ‘Evasive’ of the first stanza, eluded even by its own subject, to the arresting ‘sharp halt’ of the final lines, the poem extends a suspension of syntax. Accordingly, the challenge which ‘rocks these realities’ (a phrase steeped in modernist resonances) is a presence constantly felt, formally and conceptually; but this connection serves in fact to magnify the previous perceptions with their intrinsic value, not as isolated events in a passing journey but as a meaningful collective of human experience.

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