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.

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

"The Trick of Foreign Words" by Aoife Mannix (the tall-lighthouse, 2002)

A performance artist, and what's more the print acknowledgements aren't encouraging. But this isn't rat-a-tat rap delivery, its more the lyricism of Suzanne Vega. The collection starts with "The swimmer" which moves swiftly and successfully through images clustered around themes of rooms, shadows, edges and swimming - images that return in later poems. Other poems in the same style are more diluted but still have effective details. At times the method breaks down - poems like "Summer Holidays" begin to sound like a string of observations - notes for a short story. Most of the poems have quotable lines - "The past is just another disguise" etc - but equally several have lines like "I close the shutters in my mind", "my eyes are maps of shadows", "his grief deeper than the ocean", and "as empty as a Sunday", which in other contexts might be ok except that they're used as a punchline, and the book already has lots of minds and shadows. "Muse" and "Keeping the Accent" are too slight for me. The later poems about dead or dying parents work pretty well, never quite becoming too mawkish.

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