Yesterday was the fourth day of WinchesterFest, an exciting live-streamed poetry festival run by Whiskey and Beards. If you had the good sense to tune-in, you would have been treated to a live performance of From the Perspective of Atlas; a touching and often tear-inducing collection of poetry by Alex Vellis. Alongside his own introductory comments to the poems.
Alex describes the collection as “a non-linear thematic exploration of the concept of forgiveness and being forgiven whilst navigating through the idea of worth within the subject”. Frankly, I don’t think this goes far enough. From the Perspective of Atlas explores far more than just forgiveness, dealing with responsibility, the constraints of love, loss and more through Alex’s mastery of language and scenic imagery.
‘I’m sorry / a weight that tells you / you should be’ – The first lines, of the first poem in the collection. In true Vellis-fashion, Alex does not hold back, and the listener is thrown into deep water (a metaphor I’m sure he’d appreciate as a self-proclaimed aquaphobe). The poem is titled ‘Ants in the Summer’ and sets the tone for what’s to come.
In, what I hope, was an amusing (albeit somewhat morbid) coincidence, one of the later poems in the first section titled ‘Surgeries and a Season Abroad’ offers some good advice for the current pandemic:
‘Doctors say to wash your hands,
don’t touch what you don’t have.
That you carry the spread of disease with you,
that you are contagion.’
I think it’s safe to say that was a little too soon, however, as it was unintended, I’m sure we can grow to forgive him.
Alex is a natural and confident performer. He entwines raw emotion with his words, leaving the listener desperately waiting for the next devastating blow. A poet at heart, even his commentary rolls off the tongue with lines like ‘and, suddenly, magic is a fact’.
I do not wish to give too much away; poetry is better heard than read and, with an expressive and dynamic performer like Alex, I’d urge you to check out the livestream before it disappears into the recesses of Facebook. I can, however, assure you that From the Perspective of Atlas will leave you bitterly heartbroken and hopelessly sober.
– Sam Tate
To catch up on Alex’s set, and the rest of WinchesterFest, head on over to our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/752527678153863/videos/572093216991836/