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.

Monday, 11 October 2010

"the floating man" by Katharine Towers (Picador, 2010)

There's poetry on pages 1 to 39. 7 of those poems have 4 or 5 lines. I like what's there though. Here are 4 starts

The Art of Fugue

The violins pronounce their notes with care,
as if they are a question.
The flutes concur and answer in shy voices.

This is a beautiful subject. It bears repeating
by more solemn instruments, which yawn
and clamber to their feet: yes, they suppose they must feel the same.

Far from original, but tidy.

The Dread

These birds have no weight but heart-weight.
They are all heart, borne by lightness

and space - space between feathers, and space
within their trinklets of bone.

"trinklets of bone" is cute.


They come on soft elbows, drawn
to a place to live as two dipped eyes.

I don't get that.

The Whale

You came to find us, straying from your script
of deep thought and the sea's slow phrasings.
For centuries you swam alone through vagueness,
playing your oboe blues into the gloom.

Again, not blindingly original (the beached whale symbolising loss of "spirituality") but nicely done.

There are many music allusions - I had to look up "accidentals". "Starlings" is right-aligned - it seems fashionable to throw one of these in nowadays. "The Chinese Philosopher" is jolly. I don't get "Token". "Machine" is the least successful piece.

"Midnight Sun" illustrates the symbolic continuity running under many of the poems. It begins

There's no reason not to make a night of it again:
whisky and singing on the bright porch
while small-eyed whales lurch and moan in the bay.

The poem's preceded by "Doldrums" and "December". "The Whale" follows it. The poem then nostalges about winter nights, private stars, and reading by lamp-light. The angle that should give us seasons has exposed us to the floodlight of reason, and has washed out moon's "dark side". It ends

and this polar tilt has us all on edge -
caught on the bright side

The acknowledgements mention no big mags which is surprising, though "Mslexia", "Other Poetry" and "The North" aren't easy to get into.

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