The Cycle Diaries
‘Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquillity.’ ~ William Wordsworth
May 2019, I returned to my native Dartmoor. At the time I was reflecting a lot on life and had basically come to the conclusion that I was a total failure: I was skint, between jobs and had written a novel no one seemed interested in. What’s more, I had come to realise there is something about the world that makes me quite angry and I honestly couldn’t tell you why. I’m not talking about the usual suspects here – politics, being broke, man’s continued environmental destruction and so on (all of which infuriates me), but something that is at once altogether more elusive yet all-pervasive: banality. The 21st century’s cultural homogenisation, spearheaded by the tech oligarchs of Silicon Valley, has led to a colonisation of the collective mind that I just find maddening. Spending time around nature helped alleviate a sense of despair, which I found rather curious. I began exploring various woodland trails, first by foot and then by mountain bike. This evolved into the idea of writing an existential poem aiming to capture an impression of authentic being unearthed via an experience of unbridled joy that unexpectedly led to a profound sensation of renewal. Each canto represents a ride written on location that I typed up when I got home. I allowed myself to correct certain errors for clarification, but otherwise each canto (or ride) is written exactly as it was in my notebook. I liken the method and presentation of The Cycle Diaries to Jack Kerouac’s, ‘Mexico City Blues’ though I consider the overall aim to be quite different.
Below are some readings from a selection of cantos recorded on location.
Paperback edition is available to purchase here.
© Christopher Sharp