Tiredness: 10 Valentines, Naomi WeberThe jacket has a white background, but three quarters of it is made up of a large stylised image of a white cat with a red bow, set against a bright blue sky with stars and moon. The bottom band is white and here the title and author name as in small blue caps at a slightly rakish angle.

Earthbound Poetry Series, 2020           £3.50

An anti-romance sequence

In this slim, slippery pamphlet, romantic relationships are explored in fragments. There’s no clear over-riding narrative here, but there are snatches of story. ‘I never see you’ says the speaker in the first of ten poems. ‘Go to work / Come home / To just one boyfriend,’ she says in poem seven.

As the title would suggest, there’s a weariness to this handling of romance:

I love romance
But I never remember
Until February
When men carry around
Those tasteless bouquets
Gormless as ever, mock gallant,
Duty done
    [poem five]

The final poem in the sequence begins relatively romantically (‘I am all heart’) but the comparison at the end throws me into confusion. Strangely, it compares the heart itself with a ‘stepson’ ‘growing in and / out’ of ‘pain’. Clearly love and romance here are complicated, messy, and tinged with cynicism.

Comparing romance to the writing of poetry, poem eight seems to joke about the unlucrative nature of both:

Every time we think
About writing a poem
£200 straight in our fists, bam
Every time I think
About being held and
Holding you
We should both get
Lots of money

This pamphlet questions traditional romance not only in what it says, but in its structure. Its thinness and elusiveness, its pairing of ‘tiredness’ with valentines — all of the fragments add up to a statement against romantic illusion.

Isabelle Thompson