Poetry Pamphlet Reviews & Features

Run by HappenStance Press

Calder Wood Press, 2008,  £4.50 + 50p p&p
http://www.calderwoodpress.com

The cover photo on this pamphlet is of a snow-covered mountain. Inside, the copious white space and blue type make it an attractive read. The pamphlet contains short, reflective poems in which landscape often acts like a mirror to human emotion and desire.

The poems I enjoyed most tended to be those infused with an element of mystery. The poem, ‘at dusk’, concerns the descent of a mountain in which the “intense blue-purple” of a harebell is the only point of reference:

this ultra
-violet time

when Pascal is looking
for the mushroom
he saw
on the way up

but he can’t find it
in this other light

Poems which were more dependent on argument failed to make the same impression. ‘it begins in the mist’, for example, has the narrator stumbling along a new path in which “belief takes us/ beyond logic/ but a map/ and compass help”, and closes with:

finding
the right place
is letting go
of arriving

—which is the kind of thing I might expect to find in a fortune cookie. And when poems didn’t reach beyond mere description or obvious conclusions, I longed for some injection of imagination or verbal invention to create more interest. In several poems, thankfully, that did happen, and this pamphlet is well worth reading for its memorable images—cherubs and wasps gathering at a fountain, flies dancing between raindrops, a lonely voice calling cattle in the rain and, best of all, the house which appears to be constructed from swallows, thunder, bees, and lightning, a poem which concludes:

four dream tigers arrive
to lift you up

there is a hush as their tails
swish the old oak floor

Rob A. Mackenzie