Imago Media, 2007 - £4.00 (can be ordered from www.scottish-pamphlet-poetry.com)
‘The Currying Shop’, a helpful note tells us, is the nickname for the village of Bridge of Weir in Renfrewshire, long associated with the leather industry, and where generations of Hazel Cameron’s family had lived and worked. It is a strong title poem in which the modern factory facade cannot conceal the “distinctive odour of my ancestors’ living”—a lovely line to suggest how the smells of leather and tanning are worked into the poet’s life through her genes. We have the hides, too: “stretched beyond creation.” It’s a compressed, tightly-written poem, and I wish she had written more on and around this subject.
There are some striking images in these poems. ‘An education’ describes her mother attending Cameron’s graduation, no longer wearing her preferred high heels but
... granny’s boots:
flat, fur-lined, tight with zips.
She slipped her feet beneath plush seats.
Hiding the cost of my higher education.
In ‘The Loving Cup’ Cameron describes the hairline crack that appeared in the cup, and—by association—in the memories of love attached to it. In questioning whether the knowledge of the repair affects how we regard it, she lifts the poem to a metaphysical level. There is some stiffness in the writing—the phrase “original opus” jars, and the passive verb in the last stanza gets in the way of the last three lines—but the idea remains an interesting one.
I was, however, distracted throughout the pamphlet by what I think may be a software problem: some of the full stops appear to be missing. When I started replacing them I found that some of the capitalisation was inconsistent—or might be inconsistent. I wanted to read the poems as Cameron had intended me to read them; despite my efforts I am not sure I’ve fully managed this.
D A Prince