The Simple Men

My second collection from Two Ravens Press, with poems about river camping, roadside diners and wedding parties, among other things. Photos and excerpt.

OUT OF PRINT

The Simple Men, David Troupes' second collection, is a real gem: a gritty, lyrical hymn to the conjunction of nature and humanity. He has the sharp eye of the artist and sees through to the essence of things in vivid, stunningly spare images. He brings us up so close to the world in all its hardness and beauty that we almost feel its breath.

But there is no room for complacency or sentimentality in his work — this is real nature — nature described in all its wonderful complexity and stubbornness. As he puts it himself, this is 'no place for phony conjurings'. The 'Simple Men' sequence, which runs through the collection, leavens it with a celebratory, spiritual core that is starkly optimistic. Troupes has an engaging ability to find beauty equally portioned in backwoods or roadside diner. The carefulness and intelligence of his writing ensures this is a collection to treasure. - John Glenday

The natural world is rendered in precise detail, and fresh language... Troupes' poems evidence a writer wanting to love and live, and to write energetically, and the vocabulary and phrasing of these poems encapsulate that enthusiasm entirely. - Andy Brown, Exeter University

The Simple Men documents complex lives, seen in fleeting seasons and resonant moments, each poem a bold and fragile revelation of a character, a scene, a place. Set in diners, camps and brittle dwellings, David Troupes' sensitive and unflinching eye always catches the atmosphere perfectly, from 'the bugthirst of August' to the sound of 'ice clockworking in the brook'. Profound, wry — and often extremely funny — this is an exceptional collection, beautifully edited and produced. - David Borthwick, University of Glasgow

Notable in The Simple Men is how naive (indeed, how simple) Troupes generally isn't, and how sophisticated he assumes his audience to be. He could sell books by repeatedly describing forests and rivers in tones of admiration or terror, always wide-eyed; instead he writes like, and for, a reader, somebody who has seen 'nature' poems before and knows them as linguistic events no less real than their subjects. When 'The Bastard' comes to rest on the image of 'each tree in the rain shaking / grandly / like a tree in the rain', or when 'Apples' observes 'A little worry of rain / on the horizon, a little rain of worry', or when 'The Brook' declares 'I am the man / who fed his seed to the goddess // of seed', the twisty repetitions screw the poems tightly into the language. The strength of the words is tested by these multiple deployments, and the poems prove themselves less through breadth of vocabulary than through carefully gauged depth. At one point 'faint thunder' is said to be 'like punched-in dough'. Troupes knows how to punch. - Adam Crothers, PN Review

It is a beautiful collection. - The Manchester Review

The lyricism is dense and verdant, warm and enfolding... - Hayden's Ferry Review

...lush diction, surprising imagery, and a sense of clarity about the world. - Hazel & Wren
 
Standing in the Sea

Look. My second collaboration with Laurie Hastings, available as a limited-edition set of 6 postcards, each featuring an illustration by Laurie paired with one of my poems. The cards are beautifully litho printed onto uncoated stock, and each set is bound and editioned out of 1000. The work concerns people in private dialogue with the spaces around them, whether the enormity of the sea or the close warmth of a bedroom. £ 5 + shipping

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Parsimony

This is my first full collection, with fifty-five poems about possibility, survival, and my obsessive returning to the woods, published by Two Ravens Press. Excerpt.

OUT OF PRINT

These are spare, sharply focused poems written with great assurance and control and an often miraculous clarity, such intent observation that they seem, in Lamb's phrase, to resolve themselves into the element which they contemplate... These responses are shaped by underlying tensions, recurring themes of intimacy and unease, the narrative of a relationship, alluded to, never fully explained. The 'ratty hems' of willows and 'a sky of cheap beer' reflect a period of depression. 'The sound of hearing so little/ Of the true sound of this place' makes us aware of the limitations of human experience. Set against such perceptions are moments of intense happiness: 'One gull/ sails/ through the morning — a bright flake of halo', 'this brown-smelling joy, scarcely to be believed.' This is a poet acutely, almost unbearably alive. - A. C. Clarke, Edinburgh Review

Descriptively powerful and evocative poems in which the quotidian becomes emblamatic and luminous. A fine achievement. - Other Poetry

A poetry of watchfulness, of immersion in wilderness and commune with the wild, David Troupes' fine debut is marked by an intensely focused inquisitiveness, delineating landscapes, shifting seasons and their creatures in a meticulous, sparing style, all filtered through a wonderfully lyrical sensibility. - Robert Alan Jamieson

There is a sense, properly veiled, of the sacred - a sense of wonder, and mystery too, for these poems don't instantly yield their meanings. Formally confident, Troupes can pull off both conventional rhymes and unconventional line-breaks, and execute the most startling of shifts with his deft similes. - Ken Cockburn

[Troupes] achieves maximum effect with a minimum of words. - Gutter
 
Nauset

A chamber opera for which I wrote the libretto, with music by Joel Rust. Nauset was first performed in the Chapel of Emmanuel College, Cambridge on 4 & 5 February 2011, conducted by Christopher Stark and featuring Louise Kemeny, Joanna Songi and Edward Leach. It had its London premiere in November 2012, again conducted by Christopher Stark and with Louise Kemeny as the Wife, and a recording of that performance is available for free listening.

For the short opera is much like a dream. It is comprised of separate, timeless vignettes, set to slow breathed music of great frailty. We hear three songs by three different characters: a daughter, a wife and a father. Each discusses the father's obsession with the sea and suggested drowning, and it is their nuanced emotional responses that form the content of the opera. [. . .] David Troupes's libretto was striking, combining intense, often obscure, imagery with vernacular phrases like 'eels in a stew' to great effect. - Joe Bates, Cambridge Tab
 
As We Make Our Way Home

Look. A set of 6 postcards, each set bound and editioned out of 500. Each card features an illustration by Laurie Hastings paired with one of my poems. At the center of this collaboration are the moods and scenes and rhythms of a city: people, and the textures that people form.

SOLD OUT

 
The Scarecrow

A simple folded pamphlet, Published by Knucker Press. Excerpt.

SOLD OUT

A woman, about whom we know nothing except that she is walking in late autumn, passes a scarecrow. In a sequence of ten short poems, a world in decline is evoked exactly by a mind attentive to beauty, bleakness and fragility, as Troupes sets growth against decay, order against chaos, life against death. Written in loose yet disciplined couplets with flair and precision, there is a sense both of intimate involvement and utter detachment, encompassing the essential delight and terror we feel when we engage deeply with the natural world. This simplest of journeys becomes both Eden and Apocalypse. - Ken Cockburn

 
poems available in online journals

Indian Brook
The Weather We Call Raw, Sylvia's Games
His Wife, And to Those Bleak Hills, Bidding Farewell to the Scenes
The River Bridge, A Stop on the Road North
The Simple Man Arriving Through the Woods
The Brook
The Mill River

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