Big Sexy Lunch, Roxy Dunn

Verve Poetry Press 2020   £7.50

Living life to the full

This pamphlet conveys a real sense of living a full life through its energy and honesty. The title alone implies enjoyment and fullness and the poems do not hold back.

The opening poem states its position early: ‘I advise a big sexy lunch’. It then whets our appetite with details of Italian food. Rhyme peppers this poem to good effect ‘to’ / ‘ragu’, ‘feed’ / ‘greed’, ‘concision’ / ‘conversation’, ‘species’ / ‘cheese’, ‘sensations’ / ‘proposition’. The stream of consciousness in the single stanza captures the feeling of unbridled indulgence and fullness.

In ‘Robinsons’, the title (the barley water brand name ‘Robinsons’), immediately brought back memories of childhood summers. This is perfectly evoked in ‘bouncing to be beautiful / American and sixteen’ — all that hope and energy!

Dunn does not shy away from writing about sex. She deploys a range of forms, and makes good use of rhyme, which adds bounce to the writing. ‘Black-eyed Bear’ is very sensual in a rough way with lots of hard consonants: ‘to wake / in your gruff / hairy lock’. Short sharp lines dictate the rhythm. A clever hiatus at the line break after ‘come’, at the end of the first stanza, implies both sexual satisfaction and physical return.

‘July 24th’ is a more serious poem but it also comments on fullness:

Don’t tell me fullness is found
from a man, I’ll shoot myself

This poem ends with the narrator recognising that she finds fulfilment through wild swimming at Hampstead Heath.

The last poem, ‘Rudie’s’, is also sensual. Dunn uses words ending with ‘ing’ to draw out the pleasure in the first two stanzas — ‘letting’, ‘eating’, ‘dumpling’, ‘settling’, ‘softening’, ‘spooning’, ‘overlapping’, ‘rolling’. The poem culminates with ‘I cannot sleep from fullness’.

And we too are left with a satisfying feeling of fullness at the end of this stimulating pamphlet.

Sue Wallace-Shaddad