Poetry Pamphlet Reviews & Features

Run by HappenStance Press

light light light, Charlie UlyattThe jacket is a tall cream oblong. The title is centred in the top half, one word per line, in sky blue bold lower-case sans-seriffed font.

Essence Press, 2021    £5.00

Less is more

This pamphlet is small, perfectly formed, nice to hold. The cover is unadorned apart from the title, in a gentle shade of blue, and on the back, just Essence Press and date of publication in a soft grey. There are no distractions in this quiet framing of poems. I’m starting to love it already.

Inside the cover, tracing-paper endpapers add a lightness and give a glimpse through of the quiet subtitle page which reads ‘21 poems / charlie ulyatt’, in the same soft grey easy-to-read font, light on the eye.

Reaching the poems, there are no titles, no page numbers, just words, mostly words of one or two syllables. Nothing distracts the eye. And there’s no punctuation, no capital letters to slow a reader down, a spareness just right for these short poems, contemplations that let a reader into the moment, adding to the pamphlet’s light, airy feel. Something special happens when Julie Johnstone’s aesthetics and Charlie Ulyatt’s words come together.

light light light begins in the present. There’s a stillness, a calming of the mind, bringing it in, like the start of a meditation. From the first lines you’re drawn in, and page by page you can’t help but make it your own, paint your own pictures, because these are poems that leave room for others. As I read ‘blue / through / window’, the blue I see is a deep cornflower, the image abstract.

The lines of these poems are short. Many have only one word, like here when a burst of light comes:

stepping
from
shadow

into
sun

Up close, I feel the warmth, wonder at the power of words, then wonder at something way beyond words when a ‘shift / in / thinking’ brings a feeling of weightlessness in the following poem and makes my heart skip a beat:

found
the
sky

but
lost
the
earth

beneath
my
feet

Musing a while on this, I think of Edward Thomas’s ‘Words’, a long-loved poem, in which he addresses words themselves, saying:

I know you:
You are light as dreams,
Tough as oak,
Precious as gold

It’s a short step from light light light to here.

Enid Lee