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, 8 May 2009

"Yes, I'd Love to Dance" by Maggie O'Dwyer (Templar Poetry, 2008)

Lots of smoke (p.1, 15, 22, 26), mist and fog (p.2, 6, 7), pear trees (p.6, 24, 25, 33), rain (p.3, 7, 22), dark (p.5, 8, 15, 22, 24, 25, 30, 33), synaesthesia ("you can't separate/the colour from the sound", p.2) and solidified light ("folding the light", p.2; "watch the evening curl in on itself", p.8; "light leak out of the sky", p.10; "the light is flat and pale", p.14; "fallen bracts of light", p.19; "I will hold up the sky for you", p.33) which combined with some twilight, dusk, shadows and dreams gives a Burnside flavour to this pamphlet. Here's the start of an early poem, "Cadence"

My mouth is full of music
and voices that live inside me
like ghosts. They plead in Arabic,
lay out their graves in sand.
A choir of women shake
the blossoms from a pear tree
I like the stream of imagery (excepting the first line). Here's the end
all I can hope for is that you hear me
and that somehow I can give you
the sound of a mist and forgiveness
found in a line of trees at twilight.
which sounds ok too, though I'm already beginning to wonder whether the ending's too pat, falling back on inconclusive albeit evocative images. Like when I read a Burnside book, I'm attracted at first, but later each poem begins to sound like another reshuffle of stock imagery. It's an impression that's not really supported by this work's statistics - in fact there's a fair variety of topics, endings, and lengths - I think "Not Falling This Time" is too long, but many others (e.g. "Once upon a time") are short and well-judged. There's a welcome variation of transparency too: I don't really understand "I Ching", and "The Poet of Baghdad" puzzles me, though "Take The Sedative" is one of several straightforward pieces.

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