London’s Layers

Formerly” refers to what used to be, the past. The idea of “Formerly” by Tamar Yoseloff is what used to be in London is often no longer around, or at least is not the same. Each poem shows how London has changed over the years. “Final Clearance” says it.

Fin, Fine, End, that’s all.

It’s clear that once upon a time

you were the life and soul,

the duke of blue o’clock.

Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre

The Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre, as well as other locations in Formerly have changed significantly over the years. This one has changed the most though, as it isn’t even the same store anymore. This can and does happen anywhere in the world; not just London. While I can see how London has changed, I don’t see a “former London” per say. I see London in layers. It is a major contrast from New York City, where if something gets too old, they tear it down and build something newer in its place. Instead, I see a newer London built on top of a former London.

In Piccadilly Circus, for example, some years ago there were old buildings with blank faces. They neighbored newer buildings. However, now those older buildings have large TV monitors over what used to be bare faces. I wouldn’t see this as what was formerly London being changed into a new London, but instead the former London and the newer London coinciding with each other. The former London is still there. However, now it has a layer of new London on top of it.

This idea can be found all over London. Really anywhere you go in London, you can see how the old buildings still stand in their place. But of course on top of those, you can see the newer buildings. They stand taller, and are made to look more modern.  While the two coexist, they are still layered, separated from each other.

Formerly” really sums it all up. The poem itself has a line from each poem before it, which I feel is more than just poetic. This symbolizes how everything over the years comes together to form London. And the picture really shows how London is both new and old. The wall and the sign is still the same, but now a satellite dish has been added to it.

I loved how with this book we were able to actually see it everywhere in London. You could see how London has been changing. There was also a lot of construction, where they were building on top of was is pre-existing. But I think the part that impacted me the most is actually seeing one of the places that was discussed in the book. I ran into the “duk of gton” and if I hadn’t read this book, I wouldn’t realize what was significant about it now reading “duk of on”. I think this is an example of the old and new intertwining. This place of the past is still changing. Even the name isn’t the same anymore! I wonder where the letters go when they fall off.


London Skyline


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