Literary reviews by Tim Love.
Warning: Rather than reviews, these are often notes in preparation for reviews that were never finished, or pleas for help with understanding pieces. See Litref Reviews - a rationale for details.

Saturday, 1 July 2000

"Short and Sweet - 101 very short poems" by Simon Armitage (Faber and Faber, 1999)

Lots of big names. Few if any specialists - Pound's there, but his metro poem isn't. Indeed, there are no haiku or tanka, and very few non US/UK poets. In other words, there's little attempt to be representative of the "form" - it's as if he's trawled through books of the poets he wanted to include, rather than reading Still, American Tanka or other specialist publications. I think small press magazines have a surprising number of good short poems too.

The last part of the book (the shortest poems) is especially disappointing. I suspect that the final poem (no lines, but a long Zen title) would have been rejected by small-press and student-mag editors as clichéd.

Picking Armitage may have been a good commercial decision, but his style (conversational; few haiku-style voltas) doesn't lend itself well to writing (or, it seems, having a wide appreciation of) short pieces. If Carol Ann Duffy's "Mrs Darwin" can get in there, surely there's room for Kirkup or Dooley.

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