Bolt Down This Earth


Bolt Down This Earth is Gram Joel Davies' first collection.

Bolt Down This Earth pulses with energy. These poems hang between ambition and loss; they span survival in the home and on hilltops, stretch over break-ups and break-downs. Gram Joel Davies strips back the boards of existence to look at the wires—searching for human voices where the breeze hums though cable or branch. Adolescent ritual turns to a “lightbulb crushed into light.” His imagery is electrifying. Harmony and dissonance cause unexpected meanings to crackle and spark, while scenes and relationships fuse, so that a “power station is an ice cube / across the mica flats / and cider stymies us.” Bolt Down This Earth is very vital and very charged.


“Linguistically bold and alive to the thisness of its moments, Bolt Down This Earth is a debut collection of lyric energy and inventiveness, full-throated and confident in its own power to convince. An arrival to be celebrated.” Martin Malone


“Gram Joel Davies’s first collection slips deftly between a West Country past and the present. The poems are full of taut observation and meticulous attention to detail. And though there is an urban feel to many of them, the collection is brimful of nature. The poems are often peopled with the troubled or misunderstood, and the worlds they move in are shadowy and uncomfortable versions of those we know – almost dystopian at times. There is often a sense of the narrator or central character being the outsider (a boy almost drowning, two teenagers exploring a derelict hospital, a father too fond of his drink) and there is a disquieting and almost violent sensuality too. The complexity of the worlds these people move in is echoed by the complexity of the way Davies puts words together – sometimes joining two words together to create new words; weaving something rich and new that casts its melancholy spell over the reader, but never excludes them. In these poems the uncomfortable tinnitus of the past encroaches on the very real tinnitus of the present. This is compounded in the powerful Tinnitus sequence that is dotted throughout the collection like a central column that the other poems hang on. The cumulative effect of the layering of numerous and various language is both troubling and stunning. These are poems whose subtle inventiveness works its way into your subconsciousness, poems that you will want to revisit time and again.” Julia Webb

A sample poem from the collection can be found below.

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Bolt Down This Earth with P&P



Coming Up For Air

She makes him taste of tarragon,
olive oil, black pepper.
He does not rinse his beard.
He wants to wear it

into the warm street like a lit flume.
People gull around his wake,
scenting his beard
comb the line of hers.

A man with rolled sleeves
sniffs and wants to plunge
his tongue
but, through a window, a cab driver

draws breath, tasting
how he waited on
her nipple.
In the foyer, a clerk’s hand

floats over keys,
watching lift-numbers
kiss up her ribs, back down.
The lift fills with pepper

and tarragon. He parts the way,
his beard glowing like her olive
glow, he licks spiced lips
and remembers: goes in.





REVIEWS

Bolt Down This Earth chosen for Other New Books in Poetry Book Society Spring Bulletin 2017










In Litter:

"These poems are peopled by vulnerable, troubled characters, outsiders, who project a fractured and disturbing light on what we might call ‘normality’. In ‘The Buzzing Crowd’ the natural world feels as abrasive and out-of-sync as its human protagonists – ‘Those rooks, / they’d peck your brain and pull love right / from out your sockets.’ 

"Davies evokes psychological states of inner turmoil via language which is estranged and troubling, yet beautifully constructed in its disaffection – ‘ Your carpet crawls like droplets on a hotplate / and the fear of tiny mouthfuls grows, exponential / to fleabites’. (from ‘Creep’). Powerful stuff indeed."

From a review by Steve Spence, Litter, full review here.

In The Journal:

"From the sublime to the electric. This superb debut collection permits Davies' original and distinctive wordsmithery full rein. Electric? Let's begin with the opening couplet (from 'How Can I Mourn a Man Still Living?'):

'At the edge of my ears, a single nerve
rings like a tungsten bulb'

I'll leave that there to ponder, but I could write an essay on that one image. And the delights keep coming. Davies is as adroit with language as he is with imagery...Like I said, Davies' poetry is electric – and I love it!"

Andy Hickmott, from a detailed review in The Journal.

Grant Tabard in The Lake:

“Bolt Down This Earth is a courteously eye-catching debut collection, a lingual leyline buzzing with a flexed perception blending a revenant reflex with lyrical confidence…
A worthy arrival. I look forward to Davies' next book.” Grant Tabard, The Lake

The full detailed and thoughtful review by Grant Tabard can be found here

Matthew Stewart at Rogue Strands:

"Davies’ sonorous, surprising and jolting narratives are coherent, cohesive and highly unusual. They’ll challenge your expectations."

This full review may be enjoyed here.

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