Review – The Shadow Owner’s Companion by Eleanor Hooker

This is poetry born of Ireland and all its beautiful contradiction. There are few places in the world where Christianity, Paganism and Mythology collide with such force and rain their colours into the literature. With the poet we walk the boundary between the seen and the unseen, the known and the unknown. We walk on the water and between two worlds. There is wonder in both and fear in both. And there is an anxiety here that a sideways step will lead to an unintended crossing. The battle is between the old gods and the oldest God, creator, creature and land. And always we return to the water, the point of passage.

The poet uses her understanding of form to isolate and highlight the uncanny. She draws out the emotion of fear and turns it over and over in her hands, looking deeply into it for truth, however that comes. Truths that are sometimes easier to see with the eyes of a child. Remembered knowing. We learn that strong does not mean never lost, that adult does not mean fully grown. She turns over the experience of endings and leaves them open and questioning.

This is poetry of the boundary. This is poetry of balance, of gain and loss, afraid and unafraid of pain. The poet has a gentle gift for repetition that sings her intentions into each poem. The structure is precise and studied but at no point does it overwhelm or even distract from the message.

This is way-finding.

The Shadow Owner’s Companion is available from Dedalus Press. http://www.dedaluspress.com

Eleanor Hooker can be found @eleanorhooker_ on Twitter

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Review – Terrace – by Richard Skinner

It’s about Time.

Richard Skinner is skilled at unpacking the moment. His observations, like drops of ink into a bowl of water, blossom out in unexpected directions, unfolding and unfurling the world. His language is deceptively simple. It’s almost possible to miss the way that he plays with sound to draw the reader to a conclusion. The work engages the senses with a studied intensity taking them almost to the edge of comfort.

It’s about Time

He uses ekphrasis, haiku, lists as litany, to interrogate the instant and out pour colour, perfume, light, life, and death. They are laid out before us for observation. They are the What and the How. The Why is a personal exploration of his own place in the maelstrom of Time. This is the thread that runs through every poem in the collection. The question is one of where he stands and what that means. What does that mean for a man? And, given a man’s place in time, how does he move forward?

“They say that a Yew can walk an acre in a year.”

If so, how far might a man walk?  How far might I walk?  And do I have the wisdom to do that?

The work of Richard Skinner is a beautiful example of condensed questioning.

The Terrace by Richard Skinner is published by Smokestack. You can find him here:

@RichardNSkinner   http://www.richardskinner.weebly.com

Review – The Chelsea Flower Show Massacre – by Mark Fiddes

I took my time with the work of Mark Fiddes.
I read and re-read, and then allowed it to percolate for a while.
The recipe seems to be this:

Take a pan of social commentary
Add a cup of literary allusion
and sprinkle with essence of wry

Then reduce over a low flame until it turns to gold
Turn the gold over
It is stamped
Precision

This is precise work without being delicate. It certainly carries a weight of meaning in a small space. The language is modern and the punctuation a necessary afterthought. The work is heavy with intent and the word choices careful, and yet, none of this gets in the way of the narrative.

This is intelligent, multi-layered modern Poetry and should be read.

It isn’t perfect, which is almost a relief, and there is in places an emphasis on waste which won’t appeal to everyone. But this is clever, deep and engaging. You can’t ask much more from a first collection.

The Chelsea Flower Show Massacre will be launched at Keats House by Templar Poetry on the 17th March 2015, and is the winner of the annual iShot Award. You can find more information at the sites below.

http://www.templarpoetry.co.uk
http://www.iotamagazine.co.uk
@fiddesmark
@KeatsHouse

Review – The Thin Book of Poems – by Lach

I wasn’t expecting this.

Lach can turn a beautiful line of poetry with the same cavalier indifference that he applies to his musical asides. The strange thing is – I don’t think that he knows that.
This is a transitional collection.
You can chart the journey from the conversation of music to the music of language, from song lyric to lyricism.
In places the autobiographical accents of Betjeman meet the curl of TS Eliot, but the driving force is pure Lach. It screams “What the hell are we doing?” and follows that immediately with a “What the hell am I doing?”

It is unsteady in places.

And Lach, like the rest of us, is a much better poet when he isn’t consciously trying to write “A poem”. There are a couple of unfortunate lines but only a couple and that is rare in an initial collection. There is a firm understanding of rhythm and cadence, voice and pause, which you would expect from a musician. There is a great deal of good here with a flourish of the outstandingly beautiful.

I look forward to the next collection.
If this is what maturity does to Anti beat heat,
I’m good with it.

Who Am I?

I’m a writer currently living in Middle England. I am taking time this year to write a collection of twelve short stories.
I have a great and very patient Editor. I hold an Honours Degree in Applied Human Psychology and I tend not to talk about myself very much mostly because I put all the interesting things on the page, and when you have done that what is there left to say?
I read a great deal and widely. I’m currently listening to a lecture series on Plato’s Republic because, well, I haven’t before. I think it’s important to always be learning and growing.
I enjoy writing and I try to make each piece better than the last.

Tune-up

The English language has built over time and has rules of construction; just as any other builder has to follow a code, the writer should be able to don their hard hat and survey their handiwork. Kick the foundations and see if it wobbles.

In order to do this effectively the writer needs a good and up to date understanding of the rules. I recommend a yearly tune-up with a good grammar.

Of course, there are times when the correct use of grammar is simply incorrect, such as when we represent everyday speech.
Speech follows a whole different set of social rules,

Ya get me blud?

No one said you have to follow the rules all the time but it’s more fun to break them what you know are there.