Templar, 2007 - £4.00 www.templarpoetry.co.uk
Unusually, this is a collection that lives up to its blurb: “A dark mischief runs through this collection of well-measured and finely-crafted poems...”
The title poem ends:
There are blackbirds
singing in the trees outside. It isn’t light here yet.
We watch TV. In Abu Dis, day is vivid and fully formed.
The graffiti is fresh. A soldier aims a rifle at a boy.
The people look the same to me. They always do.
The poem effectively uses the contrast of simple images, birds singing at dawn with fresh graffiti and a soldier’s rifle, to illustrate the point. The wordplay works too: the day is fully formed but the boy is not. Despite the fact that the image is at one remove from the reader (because the narrator is watching TV, which would usually dilute the image’s impact) here it still packs a punch.
‘Zero’ takes a sensitive approach to an emotive subject:
The cleverest wound is the one that makes
a woman look down when someone speaks.
See the narrowing of her shoulders,
how she hesitates before opening doors.
A knife would have been quicker...
As the images accumulate, they deliver the message plainly and without sentimentality, thus giving space for the reader to picture and understand. There’s no direct violence here, no overdone drama, and no facile “he’s horrible, she’s the victim”. Just words illustrating and facilitating their story, well-measured and finely-crafted.
The poems translate easily from page to voice. The rhythm often looks casual, but comes to life when read aloud. They are poems which work both on and off the page. In short, Dreaming of Walls Repeating Themselves really does live up to its blurb.
Young Reader reactions:
I didn’t like the cover much at first, but then I realised it was the corner of a room where two walls meet, and it started to work a bit like a Magic Eye picture. It’s in full colour, which is unusual for a chapbook. I found the poems difficult to relate to, though. They’re mostly about people, but the people often do strange and violent things. They were a bit disturbing to read. It would have been easier to cope with them if there had been some softer poems mixed in.