Poetry Pamphlet Reviews & Features

Run by HappenStance Press

Otmoor, David Attwooll & Andrew WaltonThe jacket is a beige colour with a square print in the top third, a picture of what look like fields and furrows, perhaps a lino print in black and white. Above this the title OTMOOR and below it the name of the poet and the artist.
Black Poplar, 2016   £6.00

On equal terms

I like this pamphlet: inspired by ‘an area of wetland just north-east of Oxford’, it’s atmospheric, full of contrasting stories and black line drawings which complement each other richly. 

On three occasions though, for me, something even more magical happens. These are the only times in the sequence when an untitled set of just three lines of poetry sits quietly facing a line drawing. I surprise myself by just how powerful I find these. 

The first, quite early on, ends its three-line poem with the image of an ‘ancient door in flames’. The line drawing opposite does not seem to me in any obvious way to mirror the poem. But it does echo its form: in consisting of three reasonably discrete ‘panels’.

The other two page-spreads which follow this pattern sit close together further into the book. The first begins: ‘Dark matter redacts / the secrets of stars’. Across from it, again, is a drawing in three distinct parts, which bears little immediately obvious relation to the poem. Still, something quite profound occurs for me. The words take on immense power and—as for the first occasion—one image in particular seizes me: I fall in love with the word ‘redacts’ here. I can’t help myself! 

The third and final three-line poem reads: ‘Inside the story / other stories. Below them / more pages open.’ This is the only one to end with a full stop. And this time the whole three lines get to me: it seems to perfectly capture and describe the process we’ve just been through. The artwork opposite also breaks the mould: it’s fascinating. A white path snakes down through a black brillo-pad-like block into another busier panel: depicting what might be half-abstract bookshelves.

The whole pamphlet is evocative and rich; the poet and artist work well together. These three occasions, though, for me, are where the collaboration completely fuses, as though the two mediums meet on their most equal terms: I love these spreads.

Charlotte Gann