Some Language, Suzannah V. Evans

Guillemot Press, 2020   £10.00 together with Marine Objects

Over and again, to great effect

Some Language is a beautiful and precious object in itself. Singer-sewn and presented with delicate illustrations by Chloe Bonfield, it is being published and sold together with a sister pamphlet by the same author and illustrator: I’ll review Marine Objects next.

In Some Language, repetition is employed throughout to great effect. In ‘The colour was mainly blue’, for instance, the poet invites the reader to join in her exploration by repeating a description of a starfish, with an accumulation of new details:

A china starfish made of mainly Klein blue,
mainly sea-wrapped blue, mainly the colour of the deep sea’s eyes.

Repetition also gives particular sound qualities to the work, as shown in ‘Creaks and Sighs’. Here, a mesmerising rocking rhythm echoes the motion of the sea, and the regularity of life:

A woman on the boat, dancing faster than gulls.
Lovers holding hands on a pier somewhere.
Dancing, always dancing, the woman, the gulls.
Sighs thrown out into the air, blue sighs, boat sighs.
All creaks and sighs, the boat, the little boat.

The finest example of repetition is to be found in ‘Silk, Poets’. This is a neat, minimalistic poem, with each line featuring a single image stripped bare, consisting only of a verb and a noun separated by a comma and ending with a full stop. Despite this stark approach, the scene is conveyed so effectively:

Crawling, the lobsters.
Leaping, the mackerel.
Making, the poets.
Peering, the tourists.
Tipping, the waves.
Waving, the poets.

There is another layer of repetition here — in the alliteration which spills over each line, with the first letter of the third word in each line echoed in the first letter of the next: ‘tourists. / Tipping’.

‘Silk, Poets’ ebbs and flows around the actions of ‘the poets’, and I’m sure it’s no accident that the form resembles a lapping tide in itself. Immersive and expertly crafted, this poem is reflective of the collection as a whole.

Vic Pickup