Flarestack Publishing, 2007 - £3.00

The blue in these poems isn’t the blue of a Bernard Manning joke. It is the blue of Kandinsky, of “Picasso’s woman, cheap and Prussian” and the sky beneath which an emancipated woman tribal marks her arms and “cries curtains the colour of the universe”. But read on and you will find blue is just one of a rainbow of colours: orange pomegranate flowers, a mauve hospital, a red corner, a green detergent bottle, a yellow coat, “elasticated trousers half a shade lighter than sick”.


As someone who works in museums I was drawn to the long poem ‘Everyday Things’ which was inspired by the exhibition An Archaeology of Everyday Things at a Birmingham museum. The poem begins:


This is an exhibition about

the origins of human conflict


and towards the end it has a curator who suggests:


We’ll be known for what we don’t wear out,

not what we reinvent or turn to

compost, use until it falls apart.


I found myself cycling to and from work contemplating that so simple but rather frightening thought.


As Jacqui Rowe sits “between the café and the theatre/ to write about encounters amongst the objects’” the following incident occurs:


A beak faced boy protected by a cycle helmet,

hovers and dips to feel my copper basket. ‘It’s fine,’

I say before his carer says,

‘He’s only curious,’ and I pull my bag away.


This is a scene I’ve observed many times in museums but often not played out so positively. Jacqui Rowe presents this potential for conflict within a very simple description.


The poems in Blue take a wide variety of form and speak with many voices. Not all are easily accessible at first reading but it’s worth persevering. Try them and see. As it says in ‘Pictures of the Caves’:


I send pictures of the

caves, which are no substitute for

being there…


Sue Butler