Tim Liardet

Vermeer in Greenlandic Norse
October 3, 2012 Liardet Tim

Vermeer in Greenlandic Norse


We were stopped in the gallery’s cool

by the wash of light softening the woman’s brow,

the moonlike, nimbus-curating light

of Johannes’ woman, interrupted and welcoming,

a woman pleased to be interrupted:

neither of us had any idea, did we,

how our private talk, offered to the painting, was recording

on the cell-phone deep in your coat-pocket—


every gust of words, every spurt of laughter,

every surge of response, every interrogation;

every suggestion these two people liked to talk

while the tiny lens zoomed in on your pocket-seam…

Played back later it would come to sound

like a little shrill Cochimi, indecipherable Beothuk;

some unrehearsed Greenlandic Norse


in a world where such speaking-in-the-lining-of-the-pocket

is treated as the norm. Poor coddled signal.

It had to travel through winter wool and satin and museum air

to be recorded merely as a language

shrinking like the few who can still speak it:

the signal alone survives the voice.

Tim Liardet has produced seven collections of poetry. His third collection, Competing with the Piano Tuner, was a Poetry Book Society Special Commendation and short-listed for the Whitbread Poetry Prize and his fourth— To the God of Rain— a Poetry Book Society Recommendation for Spring 2003.The Blood Choir, his fifth collection, won an Arts Council England Writer’s Award as a collection-in-progress, was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation for Summer 2006 and shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize for best collection of that year. His chapbook—Priest Skear—appeared last year and was the Poetry Book Society Pamphlet Choice for Winter 2010; The Storm House, his seventh collection, was published by Carcanet in June 2011. He is Professor of Poetry at Bath Spa University.