The Blind Press, 2006 - no price given
There are several small things to admire about Stress. Firstly, the fact that it exists—that at 22, Richard Wink has accumulated enough work to produce a 40-page pamphlet. Secondly its energy. The book jumps with a sense of life lived and the need to wrestle its complications onto the page:
my trousers are around my ankles
and I suddenly realise there are no angels
when everything is so up in the air
(‘Nothing to do with Anything’)
Unfortunately these seem to be moments of accidental vividness and control. The poems that surround these five or six bright moments are flat, lines spilling over one another with little control, their language pedestrian or (perhaps worse) indulging a sort of adolescent transcendence:
near the kerb i notice a brown shoe left lying in the road
a stark reminder of isolation
We experience moments when the reader leaps up, heralding a genuine voice, only to be let down again:
A weasel-like man with a white line moustache …
My eyes avoid his blatant wide eyed state
it’s an optical dog fight.
There are also poems which begin badly then suddenly lift into success, such as ‘A Pint After Work’:
we would eventually become kings
but we have no kingdom
we do not sit on a throne
we live in unspectacular homes
with no real plans
with the world in our hands.
This is a far more telling depiction of the dead-end young working life than any of the other clubbing/lovesick lament/kebab-shop-incident pieces. The pamphlet is self-published and gives no evidence of prior publication. Perhaps Mr Wink should wait for the critical verdict of a dozen reputable magazines before moving to publish again, as there is something in his work—it simply needs nurturing.
James Roderick Burns