Pulsar Poetry Webzine
       Pulsar Poetry Webzine

Publication Reviews: Years 2019

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Pulsar Book Review Panel:

 

David Pike, Andrew Barber, Eve Kimber, Will Daunt and Neil Brooks.

 

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If you have a newly printed poetry publication you would like to have reviewed then send your book / booklet or CD to: Pulsar Editor, 34 Lineacre, Swindon, SN5 6DA, UK.  It may take a while for a review to appear on this page; patience is required. Note: the editor may elect to refuse to review, depending on content.  DP. 

 

Note: all reviews contain the written personal thoughts of individual reviewers.  Pulsar Poetry Webzine may not necessarily agree with statements made or personal opinions stated therein.

 

Most recent reviews are at the top, filter downwards for earlier reviews.

 

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Book & Booklet Reviews

Pulsar Poetry Webzine

 

Edition #41 (93) December 2019

 

Index of Reviewed Publications, Pulsar Poetry Webzine #41 (December 2019), please see below.

 

Storyteller; on the Journey of Poetry, poems by David Hamilton.

 

The Stock Exchange of Ideas, poems by John Gohorry.

 

Sleepless Nights, poems by Dennis Tomlinson.

 

The House Is On Fire And The Kids Are Eating  Icecream, poems by Thomas Langton.

 

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Storyteller, on the Journey of Poetry, poems by David Hamilton. A 24.5 cm x 19 cm sized paperback book with a full colour cover and 126 pages.  Published 2017 by Matador.  IBN 978-1-78803-911-6 £12.99.

 

This book is large in size and ambition. There are 126 pages of text, with eight more of colour photographs. Hamilton’s poetic vision is similarly enterprising, achieved through his idiosyncratic reinvention, in contemporary settings, of extended forms like the masque and the dramatic monologue.

            The over-long introduction would have been sharper if Hamilton hadn’t taken one of his critics to task, while attempting a circuitous explanation of the ‘confusion over what I write.’ More illuminating is his description of how he compiles books:

 

                        of verse rather than individual poems ... a cast of characters in imaginary worlds

                        inhabited by mythical and historical figures ... Like Led Zeppelin, I release albums

                        not singles.

 

            Double albums, at least. Hamilton leads us repeatedly into unique and extended dramatic conversations (often with himself as a character) which feature great writers and fictional or mythical figures. The effect is of taking a curious journey through half-familiar literary landscapes while absorbing contemporary commentaries on subjects as diverse as urban foxes, the despoiled countryside, mortality and drug abuse. So speaks Edmund Spencer in the ‘The Masque of Titania: Prologue:’

 

                        I had to peek behind the curtain to see if your land of Faerie is like mine. Is Gloriana

                        still Reigning? Oh I see Titania is ruling now. Knights on chivalric quests, dragons,

                        giants, monsters, the evil arch-magus and the sensually tempting Duessa haunted my world.

 

            The verse is driven by a bewildering energy and a determination to convince the reader that they are part of some kind of audience of the mind, envisaging a series of spoken exchanges, with little dynamic action. The diction wanders towards the prosaic and the archaic, where, for example, some of Hamilton’s established patterns of enjambment are forgotten, or a contemporary tone is lost to something quite different. In ‘The Hall of Fame:’

 

                        I looked up and a steep stair beheld, rearing up before me high on a rock it

                        Rose, from where I stood still, craning painfully to peer at its prospect, a

                        Facade of gold and silver it presented ...

 

            Hamilton’s website explains how his recent work has been produced despite considerable personal struggle, and the sheer effort and the volume of knowledge behind this behemoth of a book is undeniable. Nevertheless, you wonder whether its author has really considered how much he is asking of the reader, by inviting them into these vast and strange imagined worlds.

           

Review by: Will Daunt

 

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The Stock Exchange of Ideas, poems by John Gohorry.  A 20 cm x 13 cm paperback book with a full colour cover and 57 pages.  Published 2019 by Arenig Ltd (Arenig Press), Dolfawr, Cwmrheidol, Aberystwyth, SY23 3NB.  Cover: Circles in a Circle, by Wassily Kandinsky, 1923. www.arenig.co.uk   ISBN: 978-1-9998491-5-3 UK £8.99.

 

Gohorry is serious about the “exchange” in the title; clearly a man of wide-ranging enquiry and learning, he revels in exploring writers from many cultures and acknowledges their influence. I enjoyed his “Eight septains after Octavio Paz,” the Mexican existentialist poet, delicately capturing the edgy intelligence and elusive insights of the master; and “Two Chinese reflections:”

 

         “The clothes we hide in are watching

          from hangers, the backs of chairs.

          Now you frown, hunting a thimble,

          a small poem scorches my heart.”

 

He uses elements from Greek and Roman poetry too, sharing with Aristophanes a love and respect for birds – images of birdsong as voice, beauty and consolation recur: not an easy consolation, though:

            “…… the challenge of making,

             The bird’s gift, enigmatic and fabulous.”

 

The book moves from poems set affectionately in childhood, through some medical adventures – a cardiology appointment, “The pulse of your life passing round

                            With the hiss of an ice-skater’s blade” –

to reflections on ageing and its limitations. Gohorry also takes on a range of contemporary political themes, and here I felt the quality was more uneven. The title poem plays with the words “Brexit means Brexit” with wit and aplomb, and “To the Piraeus, 2015” is powerful and moving on the Greek debt crisis, but “Other”, I felt, is a trifle obvious. “At Sea” made a brilliant play on Matthew Arnold’s “Dover Beach” – subverting it with a heavy rhyming scheme – to satirise attitudes to migrants.

 

Poetry rich, rare and contemporary, a book to treasure.

 

Review by: Eve Kimber

 

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Sleepless Nights, poems by Dennis Tomlinson. A 10.5 cm x 14.5 cm stapled pamphlet with a two-colour cover and 26 pages.  Published 2019 by Stevenage Writers Group, pocket read series 4.  ISBN 978-1-911377-09-2. Price?

 

This is one of those rare things – a good idea done well. In Stevenage, a group of writers apparently get together in a pub called the Dun Cow every Wednesday and help each other with their writing. Then they publish them, one writer at a time, in 'pocketbook' size, and I have just reviewed one. If this is what they're like usually, I'd like to review more.

 

 Thematically, it reminded me of Roger Waters' 'The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking Album', which is never really a bad thing. Like that, this has the sense of a long, nocturnal voyage of musings. Like that, this did it well.

 

The poems range freely across subject matters, as you'd expect from the premise, do capture the strange rhythms of night thoughts. The style changes too, from sparse haiku to something a little more dense.

 

I really enjoyed most of the poems, and the way they brought the eternal and the mundane together, eg:

 

The red bus bends towards Jupiter

 

the man beside me buried in his sport

 

and the Bringer of Jollity hidden by the tower of B & Q.

 

I liked the book, and I especially liked what it represented: poetry in pubs, where it belongs. It was being read aloud in the tavern long before it was being studied in the library.

 

Review by: Andrew Barber

 

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The house is on fire and the kids are eating ice cream, poems by Thomas Langton. A 19.5 cm x 12.5 cm paperback book with a full colour cover and 214 pages.  Published 2019 by Matador.  ISBN 978-1-78901-866-0.   £8.99.

 

The blurb on the back of Langton’s book states, “Dark Poetry for Dark Hearts.” With this in mind I braced myself to be thoroughly depressed.  However, I needn’t have bothered because this is an eclectic mix of doom, ("dancing in the eye of oblivion"), despondency, triviality, a slant at religion, the weird and wonderful, telling insight, and a fair sprinkling of hilarity. As ever, and with reference to the benefits of poetry, I feel the poems are, perhaps, a form of therapy, to expunge the crud of life, a kind of sluice channel.  Here are a few examples:

 

Black Days – Blue Nights.  “. . . seeking thrills in paying bills/ This is life – A queue/ Where too few stay true/ Pushing and shoving/ To reach the exit . . . Chasing tarmac/ Dodging dog- shit/ Stepping in gum/ I wouldn’t mind/ But it’s not even Monday/ Fuck. . . it’s a Saturday/ But it’s still grey . . .”

 

Some of the poems are worth their salt thro’ their titles alone, such as, Rainbows, Fairies, Farts & Hangovers.  I found myself smiling at this one which included, “I nearly got run over by a lorry/ As the wind blew past me/ A pigeon flew at me / And shit on my head/ Laughing as it escaped my clutches . . .” Why do we laugh at other people’s misfortunes?

 

Leaning to the darker side you have poems such as, Neon – An Ode to Japan which mentions the horror of the bombing of  Hiroshima, but ends on a intriguing note, “Beautiful mountains, forests and cities/ Lit in neon for all to see/ The Yõkai that still roam.”

 

There are also references to insomnia and “Writing poetry at 4am.”  On an inspirational note there is “Where’d You Learn to Write Poetry?” which mentions devouring Bukowski and Byron and “That’s all it took/ To get me scribbling.”  Devouring the previously mentioned poets could surely lead to indigestion! One or two of the offerings seemed a bit weird, (at least they did to me), such as Rape in Paris.

 

This book tends to remind me of the hippy in The Young Ones,  or Marvin the depressed robot; on a downer, but amusing.

 

Review by: David Pike

 

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Book & Booklet Reviews

Pulsar Poetry Webzine

 

Edition #40 (92) September 2019

 

Index of Reviewed Publications, Pulsar Poetry Webzine #40 (September 2019), please see below.

 

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Simply Modern Life, poems by Claire Baldry.

 

Mirror Lake, poems by David Van-Cauter

 

The Holy Longing, poems by Vera Graziadei.

 

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Simply Modern Life, poems by Claire Baldry, illustrated by Amber Gee.  A5 size paperback book with a full colour cover and 45 pages.  Published 28th August 2018 by Matador. Email: books@troubador.co.uk  www.troubador.co.uk/matador ISBN: 978 1789015 324  £5.50

 

This may be the bravest poetry book I’ve reviewed. It is a very unusual poetry book, because every poem rhymes. I don’t think I’ve had one of those before.

I don’t see a problem with this. Like justice, poetry needs to be seen to be done, and most people see poetry as rhymes. It does rather invite comparisons to Pam Ayers though, which is unfortunate. Light comic verse has been a staple of poetry for centuries.

The author was a head teacher before retirement, and you can take the headteacher out of the school, but you can’t take the school out of the head teacher. I think that would have come across with the foreword. The poems are written with a sense of authority that can only come from experience. Sometimes this adds power, sometimes it just suggests that disagreement is futile.

And there is a sense that the author has spent a long time talking to children, which creates an interesting juxtaposition of writing style and subject matter. Walter de la Mare writing about diabetes and spam PPI calls, Roald Dahl railing against Ofsted inspections and internet trolls. This style is more effective for the lighter subjects than the serious ones. It works less well for subjects like immigration policy and global inaction on climate change.

The more comical ones though are very effective. I especially enjoyed knowing that school AGMs are just as boring for the teachers as they are for the parents (I had my suspicions) and the poems on diabetes are very well observed, especially the need to celebrate a good weight test with a massive cake. We’ve all been there.

 

Review by: Andrew Barber

 

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Mirror Lake, poems by David Van-Cauter. Slightly larger than A5 size paperback book with a full colour cover and 34 pages.  Cover: Morning on Mirror Lake, Yosemite Valley by Frederick Ferdinand Schafer (1839 – 1927). Published 2019 by Arenig Press, Dolfawr, Cwmrheidol, Aberystwyth, SY23 3NB. ISBN: 978-1-9998491-3-9  Price: ?

 

This is a collection shaped and shot through with Van-Cauter’s grief and reflections on the illness and death of his beloved wife. We discover the couple’s shared love of travelling and walking, Van-Cauter struggling to keep going, trying not to admit his pain to her, but seeing his wife in everything –

     “the jagged contours

               the sweep of yellow in the folds carved by the valley

       the panoramic view

was you – it was all you.”         

There are glimpses of earlier days, house-hunting, differing views on managing finances; doctors’ pronouncements, “Nothing we can do;” the bed in the living-room, searingly painful details as the couple share “the space we have left.” No one could fail to be moved by these delicately spare poems of lived experience. But alongside these Van-Cauter layers poems reflecting on space and movement, transience and vulnerability, using richer and denser language and verse forms – finding loss and yet survival carved into the very stuff of the landscape. He travels, carrying his wife with him in imagination:

   “……and so I fall and clamber

   for both of us. I imagine your terrified face,

descending into the smoky, otherworldly air….” to be rewarded with “constellations of glow worms” on a cave roof.

Humour acknowledges the reality of being human: “Your bloody shoes” tripping him up, or a game in ancient Siam where the royal court were entertained by “Gangnam-style” dressing up and showing off. Technically accomplished, intelligent and frank, Van-Cauter’s poems in this collection are both enjoyable and thought-provoking.

 

Review by: Eve Kimber

 

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The Holy Longing, poems by Vera Graziadei.  A5 size paperback book with a full colour cover and 70 pages.  Published on 28th August 2018 by Matador.  ISBN: 781-1-78901-567-6 £8.99

 

This is a debut collection of poems that celebrate the trials and tribulations of everyday things such as creativity, solitude and human relationships. I really enjoyed delving into the poems, reading them out loud and mulling through them in the heat of yes, an English summer. The poems have life affirming resonance and maturity of experience. There are spiritual reflections and mindful moments. I have a few favourites and as I haven’t reviewed a book for a while this was a great publication to start with.


I found romance, love and longing in this collection; the poems sit well on the page and have a nice rhythm when read aloud.


I'm Listening

I'm listening
to the glow
of the golden seed of the black earth
which fills my mouth:

I'm listening to the moisture
seeping through the pores,
the hunger of roots

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With you

With you
breaking waves
at the speed of waves
of unrestrained passion


With you
as untamed winds tousle our hair

 

Review by: Neil Brooks

 

 

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Book & Booklet Reviews

Pulsar Poetry Webzine

 

Edition #39 (91) June 2019

 

Index of Reviewed Publications, Pulsar Poetry Webzine #39 (June 2019), please see below.

 

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River Lane, poems by Simon Cockle.

 

Gloss, poems by Rebecca Hazelton.

 

Juice, poems of passion by Gilda Clark and Cath Davies.

 

You're the Froth on My Soy Cappuccino, poems by Don Behrend.

 

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River Lane, poems by Simon Cockle.  A5 size paperback book with a full colour cover and 63 pages. Sleeve note by Gareth Writer-Davies. Published 30th November 2018 by Arenig Press, Arenig Ltd, Dolfawr, Cwmrheidol, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, SY23 2NB. publishing@arenig.co.uk www.arenig.co.uk   ISBN 978-1-9998491-2-2  £8.99

 

River Lane feels like Simon Cockle’s fifth or sixth collection, but it’s his first. This is an impressive book, its poems propelled by a maturity and a wisdom that provoke, as much as they please. Many of these pieces are magnificently rooted in place, including rarely visited or concealed parts of Britain. Like the title poem and ‘Beachlands, Hayling Island’, ‘5 Poems about the Isle of Sheppey’ is an expansive exploration. It begins with a searing challenge to the “no man is an island” maxim, showing us someone leaving a wine shop:

 

shock-haired with yellowing skin ... like canvas on the wings of a Wright Brothers plane crazed eyes like black cherries rolling around in bone cups

 

The other poems in this remarkable sequence include accomplished imaginings of folklore and history and a wonderfully panoramic evocation of the strand at ‘Minster Leas’. Cockle crafts his work with considerable skill. This enables him to capture the relationship between humanity and the land with great clarity. A piece like ‘The Dedicated Seat’ remembers - or imagines - the small parts of an unnamed life and the ordinary fragments of the views from this seat. Together they explain why it has been placed in the particular spot. The rediscovery of ‘Branch Lines’ recalls a childhood encounter with a steam train:

 

The iron shriek of brakes and the engine as it slowed like a vast beetle, cloaked in iron and sulphurous smoke ...

 

As here, Cockle uses rhyme and assonance astutely: subtly and infrequently. This gives extra impetus to a narrative piece like the second part of ‘River Lane’, as an excruciating rite of passage is recalled. A poetic voice as supple as this creates transcendent moments, showing the reader how to think and imagine in new ways. ‘The Synesthesia Procedure’ characterises this via a mind’s journey through an anaesthetic:

 

... so blossom sounds just like a choir singing thunderstorms taste of old silver fillings

Friday is grey but Sunday’s magenta ...

 

Similarly, ‘Father’ redefines a relationship by reminding us that there’s no clear division between memory and imagination. It reflects:

 

You left me with little to show for those years of front and fireworks.

 

The lines’ irony extends through these rewarding and timeless poems, which have much “to show”. River Lane has a stunning Eric Ravilious cover, and Arenig’s production values are excellent.

 

Review by: Will Daunt

 

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Gloss, poems by Rebecca Hazelton.  Slightly larger than A5 size paperback book with a full colour cover and 69 pages.   Edited by Roland Wallace. Cover design by Debbie Berne Design.  Published 2019 by The University of Wisconsin Press, www.uwpress.wisc.edu

ISBN 978-0-299-32164-2 $14.95 UK £15.50.

 

This is clever and subtle writing; even the title appears to be a play on words, with a cover illustration of a woman’s thumb sweeping her lip gloss crookedly across luscious lips, while many of the poems spin meanings and reflections from a painting or a children’s story – like an adult, worldly gloss on Beatrix Potter or Peter Pan. There are echoes of regret for loss of a simpler world-view, but Hazelton evokes a complex mesh of passions that sear and fail and shifting perspectives, lovers masquerading as animals, longing and memory. Her language captures the ambiguity of felt experience:

 

“…where dragonflies dip and skim

               the surface of the lightly poisoned water

                                                             some of them

                              coupling on the fly

                    as if sex weren’t already awkward

when I fuck I hardly levitate at all

                                  and when I dive

                                  beneath the water

               I want to be detached

                         from the searing world above but how

                                              does one stop caring.”                      (Self-portrait As A Very Good Day.)

 

There is beauty found in the most painful moments, but also a straining for honesty, to look unflinchingly behind public masks and cinematic sentimentality, finding brokenness within. Hazelton is not satisfied with easy explanations: hers is a modern USA where advice on how to amuse your child is found on the internet, and the smell of earth after rain is “produced/ by soil-dwelling bacteria.” Yet her poems cross over constantly into images of fantasy to explore reality, flickering with salty humour. I enjoyed reading this very modern poet.

 

Review by: Eve Kimber

 

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Juice, poems of passion by Gilda Clark with Cath Davies.  A5 size paperback book with a full colour cover and 31 pages.  Published 2018 by Matador. Email: books@troubador.co.uk

www.troubador.co.uk/matador  ISBN 978-1-78901-526-3 £6.99.

 

For some reason, I’ve always enjoyed romantic poetry more than romantic novels. I suspect it’s because they’re generally about passion, and while love is a process, passion is a moment, better suited to a poem than something longer. It’s well suited to these ones.

 

These aren’t just about passion. A collection of poems about alcohol couldn’t reasonably neglect a few about hangovers, and heartbreak is also a theme. And the passion is for, and heartbreak from, a range of things, There is more to love than romance. There is more to heartbreak than infidelity.

 

Some of my favourite parts of this collection are not really about any of these things. ‘Money made us sinners and sin made us money’ is a wonderful line.

 

The blurb speaks of the influence of Jeanette Winterson and Charles Bukowski, and they’re certainly present and correct, but there’s something of the movies to it as well. It reminded me of Peter Greenaway too, in the blurring of the lines between food and sex, even Mike Leigh, from one all too memorable scene.

 

This is a relatively short book, at 31 pages, and most of the poems are on the shorter side - a mix of haiku, free verse, the often overlooked cinquain, and a limerick that really isn’t - but as I recall from an advert for oranges I saw once, ‘small ones are more juicy’, and Juice is full of zest.

Review by: Andrew Barber

 

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You’re the Froth on My Soy Cappuccino, poems for the present and more. . . by Don Behrend.  Approx. A5 size paperback book with a full colour cover and 88 pages, published 28th February 2019 by Matador.  ISBN 978-1-78901-678-9   £8.99

 

The poems in this collection are pigeonholed under the following categories: Poems for the Present/Life, the Universe and a Few Other Things/Our Fellow Creatures/Sins and Follies/Some Useful Words from the Oxford Dictionary/With Apologies/The Carnival of Animals/The Highway of Existence. 

 

I feel this collection will instil a marked reaction.  You either like the humorous rhyming / chiming poems, which have a limerick-type appeal, (or you don’t).  There is no ambiguity regarding the content.  The poems are easy to comprehend and occasionally Mr Behrend has provided explanatory historical / factual notes, to help the reader interpret where he’s coming from, (although some of the explanations are obvious).  Here are two examples:

 

Parental Indulgence

 

From all the normal rules your child’s exempted:

“The little scamp’s so natural, so cute!”

But, when he comes to play, we’re sorely tempted

To Whack the kid – and Mum and Dad to boot.

 

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The Woodwind Player

 

The digeridoo is an Australian Aboriginal wind instrument in the form of a long wooden tube.

 

Said a musically-skilled kangaroo

Who was learning the digeridoo:

“I’m improving my sounds

In great leaps and bounds.

Shall I play you an octave or two?”

 

Numerous topics are covered, with many interesting asides such as The Good Sense of Mr Thomas Senior. The explanatory note refers to the Demise of Dylan Thomas’s father and mentions “rage, against the dying of the light.”  Behrend’s poem hints that Thomas, (junior) should possibly have followed his own advice, and “alcoholic abuse is a meagre excuse. . .” 

 

You’re the Froth on My Soy Cappuccino is a humorous, (relaxing) read.  It’s not intended to be overly challenging. Why not imbibe a warm beverage, dunk some biscuits and enjoy the verse.

 

Review by: David Pike

 

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Book & Booklet Reviews

Pulsar Poetry Webzine

 

Edition #38 (90) March 2019

 

 

Index of Reviewed Publications, Pulsar Poetry Webzine #38 (March 2019), please see below.

 

 

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Finally, The Moon, poems by Kimberley K Williams.

 

Writing on Rock, poetry by Tim Noble.

 

Pleading at The Bar of Truth, poems by Eddie Wainwright.

 

The Human Ape, poems by Mark Cox.

 

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Finally, The Moon, poems by Kimberley K. Williams.  Slightly larger than A5 size paperback book with a full colour cover and 97 pages.  Published 2017 by Stephen F. Austin State University Press, Nacogdoches, Texas 75962, USA. Book design: Thomas Sims. Cover design: Allyson Williams-Yee. www.sfasu.edu/sfapress  ISBN 9781622881567 £16.50.

 

Kimberly K. Williams’ first collection has a captivating spirit of its own, shaped by the book’s native Texas and numerous other settings. This is an extensive and exhilarating read, with a poetic confidence that is as fresh as it is mature and as accessible as it is provocative.

            About halfway through, the title poem depicts the poet’s work through a brilliantly re-enacted nocturnal car journey:

 

                                                            This moment becomes the sky

 

              ahead, expanding bloody reds and fuchsia with yellow

              outlining the horizon. She cups this bounty.

 

       Simultaneously, Williams isolates craftily the relationship between a poet’s experience and chosen form:

 

                                                                                    After she arrives,

              she will transcribe the lines of the road into lines

 

              of a poem and see letters coalesce into words.

              She will seek stanzas, experiment with enjambment,

              deliberate form.

 

       And ultimately:

 

              Seventy-five miles per hour reveals ideas born

              in places: canyon, volcanic rock bed ...

 

              ... and finally, the moon, blossoming into crescent.

 

Here’s a book that explores ‘otherness’ boldly with wit and finely-drawn evocations of the ordinary. Searches for and encounters with angels punctuate the poems. Do these numinous moments have more than a figurative significance? Well, Williams at least teases us into wondering whether they might have. The title of ‘Sometime An Angel’ recurs through the poem, ultimately as a paradoxical, humorous prompt:

               

                                                When

              he arrives, standing

              like a column beside

              you, and he realizes he’s

              been abstracted into metaphor,

              he’ll likely guffaw.

 

       ‘On The Metro’ winds something darker into the reader’s consciousness, aligning the angelic with the kinds of human contact that disturb us in to writing:

 

                                    He

              enters the train wailing

              like a siren, cracking

              morning like a fallen

 

              egg, demanding bread.

 

       This compelling read is divided into four sections that reflect the phases of the moon. In ‘Waning’ - and through several poems - Williams writes about her father’s death with a searing integrity. Other sections allow meditations on baseball, (more) angels and the poet’s many journeys to colour a particular phase of the creative process.

            But the book never takes itself too seriously. ‘Pocket Poem’ manages to create (rather than find) some verse by simply trying to sort through the various contents of the persona’s Tardis-shaped purse. It’s another creative flourish from an enlightened and gratifying new voice.

 

Review by: Will Daunt

 

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Writing on Rock, the poetry of Tim Noble.  Edited by Will Daunt.  Preface by Joanne Clarke.  An A5 size paperback book with a full colour cover and 93 pages.  Published 2019 by The Ormskirk Imprint.  ISBN 9780244717513 £7.50.

 

I have a new life goal. When I die, I’d like to know a lot of articulate people who appreciate poetry, like Tim Noble did. This is a wonderful tribute to what seems to have been a full and accomplished life.

The late Mr Noble was a teacher and rock climber, and this book is half poetry, half eulogy (which takes the form of both prose and poem). Both are touching and well written. If the test of a man’s life is what people say about him when it ends, Tim Noble clearly made quite an impression.

The poetry itself is very good. There’s even a villanelle, which I think is one of the hardest forms to pull off successfully. There are just so few lines that don’t lose something with the repetition. In this case, the changes of context and punctuation make the repetition almost invisible. E.g., “Suffer little children who come to me” never appears in the same form twice.

The poet’s love of Shakespeare comes through strongly (proceeds from this book even go to the Royal Shakespeare’s Company’s education department). There are Shakespearean references peppered throughout, and one on how the challenges of teaching the bard is made easier by having a class which loved murder stories. It ended on a hopeful tone:

The lesson ends ambiguously:
life shocks more than art (seriously)
but the boy in front takes the play
home and doesn’t grin. I dare say
he’s now somewhere he’s never been.

There seems to be no ambiguity to the ending of Mr Noble’s lessons. Life shocked those around him (his death in 2014 was sudden) and this book was what resulted. I have no doubts he would have been pleased by it. Even though ‘he’s now somewhere he’s never been,’ he’s still encouraging people to write. That may be the biggest tribute of all.

 

Review by:  Andrew Barber

 

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Pleading at The Bar of Truth, poems by Eddie Wainwright.  Edited by Will Daunt. Cover painting, Someone at Home by Edgar Wainwright, 2018. An A5 size paperback book with a full colour cover and 132 pages.  First published 2018 by Lapwing Publications,

c/o 1 Ballysillan Drive, Belfast, BT14 8HQ. Email: lapwing.poetry@ntlworld.com  www.lapwingpoetry.com  ISBN 9781910855874 £15.00.

 

Edited by Will Daunt, this is a collection drawn from across Wainwright’s life’s work of some four hundred poems, 115 presented here. Alongside Wainwright’s poetry, Daunt has included illuminating writing by his daughter Sonja recalling childhood memories, and affectionate but shrewd perspectives by fellow poets, one in the form of a poem by Roger Elkin. 

 

A comment is made that Wainwright was more interested in writing the next poem than revising the last one, which may explain why the quality is uneven. It ranges from the piercingly poignant and economical “Graham from Nailsea,” capturing the courage and dignity of the ordinary man in the face of death, with the pitch perfect detail of a dropped crumb ground into the carpet representing him after he’s gone, to “Lying in Wait,” which does feel as if it is still waiting for him to glance over the punctuation. This is about his Army days and how it felt to go on leave, leading on to reflect on the different nature of uncertainty in the present day; but one convoluted sentence stretches over three verses. It is an interesting insight, though – Wainwright’s poetry is full of original viewpoints, fearlessly expressed. He throws his politics down like a challenge: “Commemoration of D-Day, June 2004” will either delight or infuriate the reader. His wide-ranging work sparks with unexpected sympathies – “The Invasion of Lower Austria, 1945” is a dramatic monologue taking an Austrian villager’s viewpoint and compares favorably with Browning. Poetry to savour and return to.

 

Review by: Eve Kimber

 

*

 

The Human Ape, poems by Mark Cox.  Slightly larger than A5 size paperback book with a full colour cover and 105 pages.  Published on 28th May 2017 by The Book Guild Ltd.  www.bookguild.co.uk  Email: info@bookguild.co.uk  ISBN 9781911320982 £7.99.

 

In this debut collection of poetry inspired by the scientific explanation of the universe, Mark Cox considers humankind's place in the modern world and how we have lived during our time on Earth. "The Human Ape" covers themes such as nature, knowledge, science, conflict and mortality.

 

I really found this book interesting and engaging in the way it read and was perfectly categorised The poems cover a wide range of subjects and topics which are, by-and-large, informed by the philosophical view of Cox.


Sleeplessness, homeless children, the exact meaning of the term atheist, the philosophical basis for keeping pets, natural phenomena such as rivers, sunsets and a speck of dust, children, evolution, recycling and even more besides.

The style is sparse, yet compelling and the thoughts behind the poems are lucid and clear and sort of scientific. 

 

It’s a very inspiring, questioning, life examining and life affirming debut from Mark Cox, a Haulage driver from Taunton.

 

 

Sunset

 

The red cloud deepens

As the sun dips lower

And the sky blackens

With its starlit cover

 

The refracted light

Has gone from view

The world keeps rotating

So the day can renew

 

 

The Human Ape

 

I am an ape

An ape of the human kind,

I am not a baboon,

Gorilla or Chimpanzee

But a man

A man with my own thoughts and mind

 

Review by: Neil Brooks

 

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