Quotidian, Paul Waring
Yaffle Press, 2020 £6.50
Making everyday count
You could argue that this collection is a study in near-modernity or recent history, given the references that crop up throughout its pages. In fact it’s only when I’d finished reading that I realised the opening lines of the first poem gave me the very idea I was looking for to hang this OPOI on.
The pamphlet starts with ‘Water Stories’, the first lines of which are: ‘Most days a name that coats tongues — / a conversation crumb, ever-present on lips’. This seems apt, given that Waring has a canny knack for bringing in the familiar name, the people and places that are part of the furniture of our lives. However, these everyday names also have a sense of the magical and special about them.
There are many examples of this, most notably and most densely packed in ‘Of All The Things’, a poem that wants us to imagine the author away from the quotidian and alongside a series of departed rockers and soul singers. We meet, among others, Elvis (and a Harley Davidson), Michael Jackson, Prince and John Lennon … oh and Eleanor Rigby on Penny Lane. There’s some excellent usage of these performers’ own work in this poem, most enjoyably:
[ ... ] me on a mountain
high enough to see Marvin
and a constellation of stars
called Stevie, Diana and Aretha.
Elsewhere we meet someone reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez in ‘Man On A Train’, the magic realism of Marquez mingling with the speaker’s tinges of regret:
I ponder his life and what’s left of mine: an hour
glass of days draining to retirement, and recall
the boy whose wandering eyes saw futures far
beyond small town horizons; then wonder
whatever happened to his dreams — and the ship
that never set sail.
While this collection drapes an affectionate arm over the shoulders of all that is familiar, I get the sense that a playful (or not) noogie is never far away. It doesn’t rest or look back. It acts as more of a challenge to the quotidian, and probably to the author too.