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, 24 September 2010

"The Thief" by Gill Andrews (HappenStance, 2010)

Layouts first. 8 poems are in couplets - in one of them alternate lines are mysteriously indented. Some of these have extra structure

  • in one poem each stanza ends in the word "stone[s]".
  • in "The Thief" each stanza begins with a word stolen from the previous one

2 poems are in quadrains - in one of them alternate lines are indented. Half of a poem is right-aligned, mirroring in shape and line endings the first half. "Estd in 1769 London" has lots of irregular white space, some within a line. One poem is in 5-line stanzas, and even the poems whose form one might classify as "miscellaneous" tend to be structured - "Space travel" for example is rather like a sonnet in reverse, and in "The candidate" each stanza repeats most of the previous stanza and adds to it. Repetition's exploited also in "Workstation" (phrases irregularly returning), "Is" (each stanza starting "Her brother is"), "All around the Withy Trees" ("Let me go back" repeated), and "Pleasure Beach" ("Jamie", "Stan" and "Martin").

This variety of forms is more than skin-deep; styles change too. On the back cover it mentions her "diverse styles and voices", and they're not joking - at one extreme perhaps there's "Space travel" (a list of facts) and at the other "A likeness in stone" ("When you offer me love, I give you a stone./ We both pretend you covet stones"). "The Thief" works on more levels than just about any booklet I've seen. Of course I'm biased, but I like to see structures of various types employed to further (and anchor) emotional engagement.

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