Like Horses, Jasmine Simms

Smith/Doorstop, 2019  £5.00

Emphasising the significant

Jasmine Simms uses repetition in her pamphlet Like Horses to set a scene, create a strong sound and make a point, powerfully.

In ‘School’, the writer reflects the emotion and whimsy of a teenager in a science lesson:

In Physics I drew love hearts, or bent and unbent
paper clips into the shape of love hearts.

Through the repetition of ‘love hearts’, ‘bent’/‘unbent’ and with ‘love’ used again in the line that follows, Simms introduces us to a prominent theme in her poetry. Indeed, kissing and love are referred to frequently throughout this pamphlet.

But it’s not all romance and daydreams. In ‘Hitching’, a sordid sexual encounter is reflected on, during which the writer constantly makes reference to eyes and blinking.

[…] that women blink more
than men. You try to catch his eyes

in the wing-mirrors. He says women
On the pill blink more than anyone.

The poem ends: ‘you could not stop blinking’. The ‘eyes’ and their opening and closing symbolise vulnerability, sexual awakening and the recurrence of a witnessed trauma. Simms writes ‘How we hitched our skirts’ and ‘You slide the doors of vans / like lifting the skirts of girls’. If you missed it the first time, you definitely get the point on the second. The repetition is almost rhythmic, mirroring the action itself: like sex, like sleep, like blinking.

Simms also uses repetition to create an easy, almost comical observation of routine and relationships on ‘the Eve of Brexit’ in ‘Wetherspoons’. In six short stanzas, Simms incorporates ‘nursing a pint (a soft drink)’ four times, references to ‘gay’ and ‘gay culture’ five times and ‘the things that hurt us’ thrice. The poem is bouncy, succinct and uses repetition to highlight the writer’s regularity of living and the key themes in her life.

It’s amusing to observe that from the bending of paperclips in adolescence to pop and politics in a pub, we may get older — perhaps wiser too — but the running themes and repetitions in our lives may not alter much at all.

Vic Pickup