There’s a guy works down the chip shop swears he’s Elvis. And Oz Hardwick knows where he lives. He knows because when he asks the man next door ‘are you…?’, he ‘shrugged his shoulders and said: uh-huh’. The fifth collection from this York-based poet, photographer and musician, operates around narrative poems, short fictions that tell a story designed to slyly draw you in, while freighted with ambiguities to tantalisingly hint these incidents are fragments ripped from some greater text. The journey – and it is a journey, starts, or does not start at Adlestrop, a steam train name that recalls a station once glimpsed by Edward Thomas. So it’s Lit-literate, but equally music-informed. Oz quotes Woody Guthrie’s beat-troubadour “Bound for Glory” with a ‘cheap guitar slung in the rack’ before taking in a Rock ‘n’ Tour of Plymouth rifted with generational nostalgia. He goes where stories grow off the edges of maps, chasing the white line from night to night, from one unfixed point to another. Secret ciphers, arranged in codes of whim and chance. Until he finally hits a border that isn’t on the map. Oz is a miser with words, hoarding his vocabulary as though it’s a life’s savings. Then snipes and snaps the words out, tight, making certain each word counts, as though – if he has to part with them, it’s better this way. While in the space between glances ‘hangs more poetry than I will ever write.’ Oz knows secrets you need to share, not just about the Elvis living next door.
Originally published in: ‘R2: ROCK ‘N’ REEL’ Vol.2 No.49 Jan-February
(UK – January 2015)
('Let's Go' - Yuri Gagarin, immediately prior to launch as First Human In Space)
'Poetry, Like Bread, Is For Everyone'
'Stay True To The Dreams Of Thy Youth'
'Religion is a real danger to the survival of civilisation... it will be the death of us all, the end of humanity' - Christopher Hitchens
'Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover...' - Mark Twain