Poetry Pamphlet Reviews & Features

Run by HappenStance Press

The Lobby Press, 2004 -  £3.00

 

I dusted off the word 'metaphysical' to pigeonhole some of the poems in this excellent collection. A rare word to apply to poetry these days, John Burnside apart, though I like Brian Johnstone better:

How rush stems paired and danced

in moving air, formed geometries

 

inclining to each other, held space

the way a pair of hands cups time.

        (‘A Definition of Space’

The two best poems, ‘Behind Your Eyes’  and ‘Sentience’ are long single sentences annoyingly difficult to quote selectively from, and impossible to quote in full here, but both illustrate this poet’s talent for sustained exploration of a theme, using a tensile line as strong in the middle as it is at beginning and end. This is the poetic equivalent of dancing across a tightrope, and just as hard to pull off. The poems are rhythmic, metred, and skilfully enjambed, techniques that give the poems form and impetus, the feel of a metaphorical journey. The language used is accessible, but in ways that are subtle and elliptical, so that often you do double takes as you read. Just goes to show that you don’t need to plunder the OED to be profound: 

  …. At these places

where the meeting and the parting

are the same, the sands run smoothest;

 

 

shores are banked with rushes

whose singularity of line stands sheer

and pencil thin against the space

 

each interrupts

                (‘A Definition of Space’)

 

You could, I suppose, sometimes feel that he mines too much from a seam, so that the poem can feel attenuated. And perhaps the extended metaphor of 'Horticulture' (life is a garden) is only just the right side of tor-curling tweeness. But I think that in reading this chapbook - as I was myself - you would be only too happy to be seduced. 

 

 

 

Paul Lee