tall-lighthouse, 2005 - £2
The twelve poems included here are snapshots of memory, but they aren’t dead memories trapped in those instants. “We all have other selves,” the poet tells us in ‘Carrion’, and her poems explore those selves manifested in the past, present and future.
Lisa Dart thinks deeply and likes to explore philosophical questions through crisp imagery. This often works well. In ‘Flying a Red Kite’, she recalls trips to the beach with a friend, a kite, and “always a cold wind and desire/ tugging hard at things”, a promising symbolic image, although the poem could have tugged at the image harder.
Sometimes though, her narrators struggle with complex ideas in ways that didn’t convince me. In ‘The Anchor’, for instance, the tide washes up a rusty anchor on the shore. The narrator then ponders Nietzsche’s theories of recurrence and “Puzzling this… felt, once more, your very first caress.”
I just don’t buy “puzzling this”. It’s too removed from the memory of a physical caress to be anything other than the organised thoughts of a poet.
The first-person narrator comes over only as a vehicle for the poet’s ideas.
But I enjoyed most of these poems. I admired their ambition, their refusal to settle for the superficial. My favourite was ‘Between Things’, which explores the difficulty of finding words for in-between states:
A word, too, for when the mind meanders
and—as if on air—memories come, flit,
land precise on random things
I read this pamphlet several times and while, at times, I got frustrated over imprecise phrasing and muggy thought, and while I noted a tendency to explain when no explanation was required, these poems kept me interested. The collection is an enjoyable, thought-provoking read.
Rob A Mackenzie