Importents, Naomi Foyle
Waterloo Press, 2021 £8.00
The ‘importents’ of being realist
Alan Morrison states on the back of this pamphlet that ‘the twin bugbears of ‘Brexit’ and Covid are confronted’ here. I can’t help wondering if we’re far enough away to be able to get any sense of perspective on either subject.
However, with Importents, Foyle has managed to come at these subjects with angles that go beyond the potential for ranting, etc. With the notable exception of ‘Fracking Brexit’ — and I hope ‘fracking’ is being used as an expletive as it is in Battlestar Galactica—the collection instead highlights the impact of both events on the world and on the people the poet knows.
The clearest example of this is to be found at the very centre of the collection. In the villanelle ‘Organisational Change’, neither Covid nor Brexit is explicitly referred to, but the poem feels like the purest distillation of the impact of both. We see the impact of the times within the working/corporate world, a world where furlough schemes and the like can only help for so long:
People I’ve worked with for years aren’t here.
Resignations tendered; severance ‘volunteered’ for:
apparently, they chose to disappear —
The repeating lines of the villanelle reinforce the idea that these sorts of ‘changes’ keep coming back to us, while grounding the (saddening and maddening) events in historical terms and providing some additional perspective.
I may be over-thinking it, but the closing stanza of ‘Organisational Change’ also seems to me to take on the even more severe/frightening connotation of people lost to illness:
my friends who loved their jobs, held words dear,
now just echoes in this institution’s hollow core.
People I’ve worked with for years aren’t here —
don’t tell me they chose to disappear.
The final poem (titled ‘on watching Edward Colston / get dumped in Bristol Harbour’) ends with the lines ‘and, at my back, licking its blue lips / the history-hungry sea’ (full stop deliberately omitted).
We are still in this ‘history’.