Smith/Doorstop Books, 2006 - £3.00


Pam thompson’s world is a compelling, understated, often sad, slightly surreal modern Britain, full of people celebrating Divali on the Belgrade Road, sitting in pubs “Way past Auld Lang Syne”, wearing hoodies, and George Best “booting the ball through the screen/ after scoring for the first time in colour.” In ‘Night Interiors’, Santok (the man at the petrol station) displays Easter eggs and sorts out the flowers on display:

under blue strip lighting. Going and coming,

redoubled in the chestnut flank

of a customised Subaru,

he steps towards himself; breaks away

     Thompson’s poems are rarely easy, but needing to read carefully drew me in. Sometimes I felt as though I was almost participating personally in the various experiences, though in fact I’m ignorant of MSN chat, Human League and Eminem. In ‘The Talking Cure’, the therapist is a woman who “reminds you of Paul Weller”—I identified clearly with the need and confusion of the client whose “mind wanders,/ for at least twenty three pounds, back to the Danube/ and speculates on why it was ever regarded as blue.”

    I liked the poignancy of remembering a relationship in ‘Her Grown-up Dress’, a single sentence of 15 lines that flowed with hypnotic, cinematic quality. Thompson writes with insight about all kinds of relationships but I found myself most strongly drawn to the fishermen staring at the pool that will be “sifted/ long after the women at home/ have packed up and moved on.”

    I sifted Thompson’s language as I cycled to and from work. It haunted me. Her characters were everywhere: hoodies, couples... and, in the garage, Santok taking down England flags, getting out strawberries for Wimbledon.

Sue Butler