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, 8 August 2006

"Intimates" by Helen Farish (Cape, 2005)

£9 - maybe that's the going rate nowadays, or perhaps one has to pay extra for blurb like "these haunting, haunted poems negotiate their emotional freight in carefully crafted forms which mediate between exposure and guardedness. Expertly charting the geographies of love and desire, the histories of emptiness and grief ..." How does one judge a collection? By its best poems? its worst? Or does one take an average? This collection has a good average level - few knock-outs, no disasters. The method of "The White Gate", "Mesoplodon Pacificus", "Surgery", etc is shown most starkly in "Newly Born Twins". The byline is In separate incubators one of the twins was dying. Against doctor's orders, a nurse put them together, an event which is described then exploited as metaphor. More generally, events involving 2 things (twins, breasts, etc) are used to symbolise a relationship between 2 people. Events involving one thing (lighthouse, whale, etc) combined with the elements (usually water) are used to symbolise self vs circumstances. Love again provokes the most imagery. There's

I love you now like I love
unswept paths, unkept groves,

for example, and

I love being over you. I can't think
when I've been happier. Being with you
was like the thrill of tightroping

over Niagara.

The blurb's "crafted forms" refers, I assume, to the regularly sized stanzas. Here there's the added common tendency to shorten the lines when the content's less poetic.

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