Speaking parts, Linda GouldenThe jacket is a bright pillar-box red, but it has a kind of wallpaper pattern inside that red, which appears textured. So this creates a huge circle in the middle, divided into two halves (different textures). But the circle is subtle: you don't immediately see it at all. Above the circle the title of the pamphlet appears in large lower case white regular font, centred. The author's name is centred in the same white font below the circle, so both sets of letters are at the very top and the very bottom of the jacket. There is no other imagery or lettering.

Half Moon Books, 2019  £7.00

Lyrics that link

Linda Goulden can write poems that are deliciously lyrical. You can almost hear the tune, especially in the evocative opening trio of this pamphlet.

The first poem, ‘Soon Song’, addresses an unborn baby:

I’m joy-struck, dumb,
not numb, wee bun.

How lovely the soft swinging sounds are in numb/dumb/bun!

Oh you’ll have the run
of them soon, wee bun,
soon, when they cling to you,
drink in the skin of you,
welcome the kin of you,
soon, wee bun.

This really is a singing voice, tender and soft. The poem ends ‘Come soon’ (such a pleading vowel transition), and then the next poem (‘Catch’, which of course can mean ‘tune’) introduces the baby’s voice:

Out of a warm sea I have come
where squid, sea serpent, tail and fin
swim in soft weed

So there’s the link — the ‘m’ sounds and ‘in’ rhymes are singing through from one poem to the next. But ‘Catch’ has a new sound too, the sound of ‘this world’, where

far rhythm and hard music drag,
tentacles grasp and bind and gag

The consonant and vowel sounds have changed. The flat ‘a’ and hard ‘g’ are more threatening — but they also bounce merrily.

Then ‘The Peggy’ (which seems to me the last of this connected group) begins

Behold the rag rug of inheritance.

There are the ‘g’s again and the flat ‘a’ — but the soft ‘m’s and ‘n’s are about to return. ‘The Peggy’ is a kind of rug, into which different materials are woven, just as different sounds are woven into the poem. But first there’s an apology:

There is no magic carpet, no kilim,
no turkey red, no leopard skin.
We’re sorry, baby kin

But the baby is going to belong. It will be sung into place.

Here are the last few lines, which lovingly call back the ‘in’ rhyme and link it with the ‘fin’ and ‘skin’ of ‘Catch’, and the ‘skin’ and ‘kin’ (and ‘sing’) of ‘Soon Song’:

By latch, patch, lever, spring,
you’ve poked your little proggy in
and now we’d never trade you in.

By hook or crook or safety pin,
we’ll find a way to braid you in.

Helena Nelson