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.

Thursday, 11 January 2007

"Tramp in Flames" by Paul Farley (Picador, 2006)

It's rare for a poem of his to offer nothing at all - even if the idea isn't perfectly executed there'll be some saving observation or twist. That said, I found the long poems a struggle - "Civic" is 7 pages of syllabics; "Requiem for a Friend" is 10 full pages; and "The Big Hum" goes on for 4 pages (the 7-page "I Ran All the Way Home" is just a list of short paragraphs, albeit very readable). Between, there are poems like "Tramp in Flames", "Winter Games" and "The Heron" where he makes the most of an opportunity, accumulating apt, unexpected images. "An Orrery of Hats" is a fine idea that doesn't quite come off - hats being compared to meteors, dead satellites, etc.

I hesitate to quote too much for the book because some poems depend heavily on the images, so "Warning: Spoilers Ahead": many readers will like (for example) the thought of an old Ovaltine tin turning into a kind of music box with remembered jingles, or "a polystyrene cup edging across a table on a train like contact at a séance".

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