The INVINCIBLE Poetry Pamphlet Press (in association with Over The Edge), 2006
There are some pamphlets which present something like a treasure hunt to the reader. This was one of them. First I couldn’t find the price to put at the top of the review. It is not on the pamphlet. It is not in the Amazon website (which in any case says the publication is out of print, although this is unlikely to be true). The publisher (The INVINCIBLE Poetry Pamphlet Press) has an address inside the pamphlet (I think this must be the poet’s home address, from which it can presumably be ordered—see end of review). ‘Over The Edge’, which part-funded publication, organizes (among other things) an open reading series in City Library, Galway and their website certainly publicized the launch of this pamphlet with an appealing picture of its author. But no price, or advice on how to get a copy. From there I learned that Augé is to judge ‘Over the Edge’s 2008 New Writer of the Year competition, and that she will have a full collection published by Salmon (no date given) called The Essential Guide to Flight. (www.salmonpoetry.com) Salmon has an online shop, so at least she will be purchasable there.
But back to the treasure hunt. I liked the title of this collection immediately and found myself reading in pursuit of the promised tornadoes. The cover image is a satellite photo of Hurricane Bertha, but there is no title poem. A phrase, then, inside one of the poems? In ‘Angel of the Intersection’ there is a reference to “Kansas on a quiet day” and there are certainly tornadoes in Kansas, but not in this poem. In ‘Lost in Plastic’, she says, “I click my wedge heels together,/ once, twice…” but there was no three times to suggest she might have been Dorothy at the end of Over the Rainbow. Later, I thought there was a better clue to those tornadoes elsewhere, but I’ll come back to that.
A central sequence on motherhood makes the collection fall into three sets. The opening poems deal with, among other things, family relationships: father, mother and a sister feature here. Then ‘Mother Truths’ consists of 13 poems about motherhood, after which the pamphlet concludes with a number of love poems.
The motherhood poems are easy to relate to if you’ve ever had baby, and though they did not really ‘bite’ for me, there were some lovely phrases (“tiny jeans with tiny pocketfuls of nothing/ drying on the line”) and welcome sense of humour. Many of these would get a warm reception from a live audience.
My favourites, though, were the poems that presented a little bit of a story, reading the reader to infer the rest. ‘I Would Have, Maybe’ seems to be reflecting on a suicide; it is plangent and thought-provoking. ‘Dreamlife’ talks about a sister asleep who “sleeps in a field of poppies,/ unguarded”, and it is mysteriously allusive.
Sometimes, I confess, the language made me uneasy because it seemed either too obvious (“It will take one glance to shatter me”), or slightly too ornate as though it was trying too hard. Ever since I read about the huge popularity of the word ‘shard’ in poetry competition entries, I’ve been unable to come across it without wincing slightly at its rhetoric, and shards do infiltrate a couple of poems here.
However, I very much liked ‘Her Nine Lives’, which may—although it is in the third person—have the poet at its centre. If any of the poems provides a clue to the title of the collection, I think it must be this one. It is about a person who is frightened. Perhaps she is ‘the weathergirl’:
She consults the weather forecast
religiously, waiting to go outside,
waiting for the rain to stop.
But she is surrounded by the sea,
and it could rain at any moment,
before the clothes are dry.
And the wind could blow up
and sweep her away with the dust.
or she could live tomorrow.
She could live next week.
The Invincible Poetry Pamphlet Press
c/o Blackthorn Cottage