Digest #63

Rob Lowe Supermundane

Back in our March 2021 issue of Digest we caught up with former speaker Rob Lowe, otherwise known as Supermundane, and he gave us his own unique perspective on things.

I first heard this poem on Radio 4 on a program called The Pleasures of Brecht. The program is more about a poem called Pleasures, which is a simple list of things that bring joy: The first look out of the window in the morning, The old book found again… This poem alone could have been a gift in the last year; a reason to look for pleasures in bleak times. Within the program a Germanic voice reads the poem above. It had an instant effect on me and I printed it out (set it in typeface) and put it up in my studio. I look at it every day and whenever people come in (when people could come in) to my studio they often comment on it.

Over the past year the poem’s simplicity along with it symmetry has given me joy each day. It doesn’t seem to matter how many times I read it it always has an effect on me. Poetry can behave like magic sometimes, creating something so much more than a simple few words in a group. The ordinariness and the repetition in this poem appeals to me. In my own work I’m usually working with very ordinary ingredients: 45 and 90 degree lines, circles, squares etc. But it is the placement of these lines in unexpected ways that creates something engaging. Often it can be about adding one thing that can make all the difference. The word ‘also’ in this poem feels very important. If you take it away the poem still makes sense, but some of its magic has gone.

A couple of weeks ago I started thinking about Brecht’s other poems. I not sure why or what set it off, other than having one up in my studio. I started to look for a collection of his poems and found a copy from 1976 which has a very simple cover that appealed – I can’t help but look for editions of books that have interesting covers. The book has over 400 poems from over 40 years so I’m still working my way through it, but when I received it I immediately looked through trying to find ‘In the dark times…’ but I couldn’t find it. I didn’t know it was called Motto but when I did a little research I found that that was its name. It is part of the poems he wrote whilst in exile from Nazi Germany in Svenborg, Denmark between 1936 – 1938. It’s the very last one of this collection.

Rob Lowe Supermundane

Over the coming years I imagine there will be lots or poems, books and songs written about this time. Whilst we haven’t be in exile, like Brecht, we have had to make sense of a new form of isolation that will have be be unpacked over the coming years.


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Rob Lowe Supermundane

Posted by:
August 2, 2021
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