Fierce Understanding – An Evening with Alan Moore & Stewart Lee





There at the heart of London’s theatre district,

Comes something real as the weather

Casts its torrid abstractions above.


A talk between friends and a set of commandments

To understand with compassion what we may hate

And still love. Alan Moore. Stewart Lee.


In conversation. The topic is Alan’s

Jerusalem Novel, and how it is

A possible means to be free.


Stewart describes the book,

In his inimitable way, lit by humour.

But by scholarship also,


Schooled as he is in the word.

He captures this book of Spells

In which Moore conveys his family’s magic


In ways that are truthful

And with a tongue that can

Nevertheless taste the absurd.


The book imagines Moore’s home

As the Afterlife’s garden.

The broken streets and lost buildings


Are the temples that death

Can rebuild. A stone angel speaks,

Along with the Devil.


Alan’s brother Mike, as a ghost-child

Is also a featured after a brief

Sojourn with those killed.


The laughter rings sharp

In this West End Theatre.

Deeper no doubt, with more reason


Than the usual pale joke expressed.

Now these art partners each support

Their combined assurance. Alan as Author,


And Stewart, reading had to call and wait

For Aviva insurance, which put his connection

With his good friend’s book to the test.


The Lucia Joyce chapter wakes

Finnergan into a higher energy level.

Yet Alan’s re-invention of language


Is not where his proper genius rests.

It is in the eloquence of his thought

And that his now white hair echoes


Snowy, his Great Grandfather Vernall

Who lived as he does in high realms.

To listen tonight was to somehow locate


A new season. One in the mind,

Fed by reading and how our love

Of what’s there seems to meld


With what we are, what we need

And we what we want of each other,

And of the world and the weather


And the never quite found

Someone else, who will unlock what was kept

Behind our senses, but is all we feel


Sparked by the beauty of the book

He wrote. Its ourselves.

So many profundities come


Bidden by both style and substance,

A fierce understanding of all that we’ve done

Remains his. One feels Alan knows


(And Stewart Lee helps to serve this),

The path towards reformation.

And so this special book is a kiss.


As is all his work, from song to comic.

Alan now turns to poems

As the form to which he’ll fix his name.


And he will write them, I know

Above these endeavours, knowing

That the work so far is a poem


And that there’s poetry too

In each frame. We get the world we deserve

And the one we imagine.


The only one we can picture

With our somewhat limited view.

Alan soaks in his bath


And contemplates shadow.

‘Lush’ body products are his

Preferred balm for skin truth.


He loves them so much

‘Lush’ sought to market his essence.

And asked him, ‘What was the fragrance,


Which aroma could hold and reflect

What he was, what he is,’

What was it he would summon?


‘Hash and superiority’ was the answer,

And indeed that is what we might expect.

But beyond the flip lays the found


And in the found the forgiven.

Alan Moore knows the answer

And the location (Northampton)


Of Where Jerusalem attains ground.


David Erdos 7/11/16



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