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, 8 October 2008

"Slug Language" by Anne Caldwell (HappenStance, 2008)

It starts with images of pre-birth, ends envisioning the poet's death. Between, themes cluster - childbirth segues into motherhood then grandparents. Some poems develop a single image (often introduced in the title), others are "what if" poems (e.g. "My mother's house falls into the river,"). "Jake" is a poems that chains observations. "The Sea Holds its Breath" is a dreamy narrative. Poems are tidy, prim: when line-breaks aren't required there's paragraphed poetry; when 2-line or 3-line stanzas are used, there's little stanza-enjambment. The most striking imagery's contained in short sentences ("Rain tattooed her back.", "The waterfall stiffens.", "The world periscopes down."). Elsewhere the imagery's less striking - using "Painting Over Cracks" as a title spoils any surprize, and ending a poem with a punny cliché like "all at sea" is risky.

"Slug Language" may be the best piece. It's hard to identify any weak ones.

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