Poetry Pamphlet Reviews & Features

Run by HappenStance Press

Stone Pig Press, 2007   £5.00

http://www.word-power.co.uk/books/their-proper-names-I9780955645204/

A book of two halves. First, the poems of Jason Watts, second those of Tim Pomeroy. They make a good pair: similar enough, dissimilar enough to be friends.

Jason Watts’s poems are generally around sonnet-length, free verse (occasional rhyme, no use of meter that I could detect) typically arranged in regular stanzas.  Their rather consistent strategy is to reach through close consideration of a natural scene toward something human or something spiritual:

how in sounds the shoal of the world,
how in the world the pushing will

      (‘How in an Ash Tree’)

In several poems this strategy is beautifully realised, the deft and sonorous language pushing the reader’s thoughts well beyond the primary focus. Consider, for example, the third and final stanza of the first poem, ‘Mouse Skeleton’:

You left just your inner shell,
a rack of suggestion,
delicate pedestal
on which to set this world running pell-mell.

Tim Pomeroy’s poems are longer, with fewer and less-regular stanza breaks.  Thematically, they are also concerned with drawing human concerns and consolation from a detailed engagement with the physical world, but the focus is less on natural scenes per se and more on tools, activities and artifacts.  The conclusion of ‘White Buoy’ is illustrative:

I salute
its vain endeavour, being, myself, pulled towards
that point of stillness and chaos
where two forces clash.

It’s illustrative, too, of a tendency not shared with Watts: to make the step to abstraction explicit and explicitly personal. This is a tendency that some might prefer to live without, but I find it to be attractively handled: 

It’s not just the leafless trees or afternoon
...
but a middle-aged couple come so far
realising the something of this life
they are trying to lose, and losing it
by gathering sloes.

(‘Gathering Sloes’).

The pamphlet itself is a pleasing artifact, stapled A5, with a heavy magenta cover, and four of its pages decorated with small illustrations (perhaps linocuts?) by Josephine Broekhuizen. There are some strange inconsistencies in font-size and spacing but overall I thought The Stone Pig did its authors proud, and vice versa.

Stephen Payne

 

And the Young Reader adds:

The chapbook looks wonderful. The colours are well chosen for the tone of the poems, as they are warm and natural, which complements the earthy feel of the half devoted to Jason Watts. The printing is very high quality, with thick, sturdy paper as well as the fine tissue end papers.

The first set of poems is by Jason Watts, and they are simply fantastic! They all have a natural yet philosophical feel, and vibrant imagery that leaves both everything and nothing to the imagination. I found that these poems are best enjoyed outside.

While Jason Watts takes a physical thing and explores it in metaphysical ways, Tim Pomeroy does the opposite, taking a philosophical or mental image and transforming it into something physical that we can relate to. It is this contrast that makes them perfect for being in the same chapbook. Tim Pomeroy’s poems, being easy to relate to, make one feel at home, which I find is the nicest place to enjoy them.