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.

Friday, 4 January 2008

"A Few Late Flowers" by Cliff Ashby (HappenStance, 2007)

I didn't get on with this, though the author's had 3 books published by Carcanet, so it's better that you judge for yourself. On the back cover it says "never self-indulgent" but I felt that too much space was devoted to issues that too many readers will already be aware of, or have experienced themselves. Old age, like first love, might feel unique to the person concerned, which makes the use of these subjects in art somewhat challenging. Here for example is the penultimate stanza of "Sycamores". They come after the narrator has wondered whether "trees have Their own moods, or Do mine project themselves Onto the tree?" and has also wondered "At the true nature of trees"

Were they created
For the pleasure
And distraction of man
Or is there a purpose
To their existence
That the imagination
Has not yet conceived?
I can see how this can be used to reveal character or be used in some ironic way. The final stanza delivers a justification, but insufficient for a 2 page poem.

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