Arriving at the Capital, James Flynn
Eyewear Publishing Ltd, 2016 £5.00
Poems with sustenance
Getting a handle on these poems as a set was quite difficult for me. And then I gave up trying and took them as a set of discrete, engaging individuals, like people at a party with nothing obviously in common apart from their style of dress, and each one with its own history and personality. Good guys – most enjoyable to move among and get to know – and something nurturing about them too, sustaining.
Sustenance. Where’s that coming from? I think it's something to do with a generosity of tone, an openness of dialogue, a sense of the world as a welcoming place, where reconciliations are possible and surreal surprises make almost anything possible.
There's nothing superficial about this. You can do a good, long bit of thinking about every poem, while savouring the pomelo, ‘a citrus ball in deep bluish green, / a giant’s grapefruit but sweet like mandarin / slices in sugar syrup’. Or the ‘ultimate breakfast’ with ‘heavenly sausage and bacon’ that holds back death. Or ‘a hot bath, ham and eggs and coffee’ for Mahler on his ship to America. Or ‘a new way of thriving’ with an old friend that includes ‘beers / on the sea wall at Del Mar’.
And a couple of the poems are cheeky little songs, as though James Flynn is stepping in and out of the usual poet methodology with jaunty insouciance. He is doing what he wants to do, because he can, indeed he can, in a slender first collection that has afforded him pleasure, and is unusually pleasurable to read.
He ends with a song, and I will close this OPOI with it:
You can’t on the whole make wishes or dreams
Materialise according to plan.
What makes life worth living it seems
Is that just on occasion
You can, you can,
Just occasionally you can.