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.

Tuesday, 26 March 2002

"Thumb's Width" by John Redmond (Carcanet, 2001)

Work ranges from the prosaic

It was a war of inches on the shore
when we poured toy forces across it.
My brother's were crackshot Marines;
I had a team of Tommies and Jerries.

of War and Peace to the challenging

As snow is the demon in any gravity,
don't close your eyes, love, don't be shy,
our world is lit up from inside -
you gaze on the coinage in the cedars,
drizzling upwards with cool zeros, as if ships
lazed home through a wave of sombreros,
inciting the port to an easy confetti,
the lovers' mouths intensely busy,

of Freeze. The style at times reminds me of Robin Robertson. The grammar's standard, and simple narrative with dialogue is not avoided (poems like Let's Not Get Ahead of Ourselves seem too flat to me).

My favorite piece is Aurora. This (and other poems) use the structure of logic to push the narrative on, or set up pairs of equivalences. sun is to stars as aurora is to wind. sun puts out other stars, and aurora puts the poet out of the house. When the binoculars are lowered, the poet sees himself in each eye-piece as darkness "haloed by sunflares", setting up a poet=sun match, putting out other more distant "stars". These 2 dark images are compared to magi whom the poet follows "behind the mirage they may have followed/by following a star".

Add to this the poet feeling "like an early armchair astronomer" and the poet as "a doubting third" behind 2 eyes (Descartes thought the 3rd eye was where the mind and body connected) and you'll see how much is packed into this sonnet-length piece.

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