Poems for 2016, Tony LawrenceCover shows slightly bleached full colour photo of wind turbines on a hill, with a background of coulds and sky. White print in verse format at top left says 'Something old / Something new / Something borrowed / Something blue'. At the bottom towards left of page lettering in caps reads: POEMS FOR 2016 / BY / TONY LAWRENCE

Tiplaw Press, 2017     Unpriced

The poetry of footnotes

The many and various Tiplaw Press publications show how wonderful self-publishing can be. You don’t have to wait around while some editor or competition judge makes up her mind. You don’t have to stop for praise, blame or correction. You can allow your creative impulse to whirl you forward joyfully. You can give the publications away, or make their contents available on the web. You can have fun.

Over the last ten years, I have read perhaps a dozen poetry pamphlets by this Edinburgh-based author. They are accessible, and presented in an engaging, reader-friendly way. You can read fast and rejoice in their quirkiness of style (and sometimes punctuation). Most importantly you can relish a genuine and original voice: as real as Ivor Cutler.

Any subject is fair game for a poem. Some are relatively scientific. One here is in French. Some rhyme. Others make no attempt to, though lines tend to be left-justified and short, as in 'The leap' which is about salmon:

guided me
the cool current
in the dark stream
and this time
I leapt again

In Poems for 2016, the surprise and delight of the poems is equalled, if not surpassed, by their footnotes. We are in the world of Tony, where even the footnotes are fab. The footnote to 'The leap' reads:

Unlike the case with human beings, if Salmon could write romantic literature, the plot would always be the same. It is also the case their romantic fulfilment requires them to return upstream to their place of origin.

My favourite footnotes include the one on ‘Deus ex Machina’ about Ytterbium, element number 70, and another on ‘Unununium’ which I now know is the original name of Element 111. It is also a glorious title for a poem.

I could conclude by quoting from one of the poems, but I prefer to give you the footnote to ‘The Gruntometer’:

It is now, unfortunately de rigueur to display the speed of the ball at grand slams and other matches. There ought to be more interesting facts; e.g. the spin rate, or the intensity of the grunt.

Helena Nelson