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, 29 October 2010

"Ground Water" by Matthew Hollis (Carcanet, 2004)

A debut book. The acknowledgements suggest that he deserved it - he'd already had a pamphlet published, had been in many magazines (PN Review, Poetry Review) and some books, had won a Gregory and had been placed in competitions (National Poetry Competition, etc). He'd also received criticism and advice about the poems from Armitage, Burnside, Polly Clark, etc.

Quite a few of the endings are open rather than closed, or at least expansive - e.g. "Wintering" ends

There is in this world one snow fall.
Everything else is just weather.

There's plenty of threshold imagery - gates and windows feature, but more especially [open] doors and [closed] eyes

  • "If I close my eyes" (p.11), "flint of eyes" (p.25), "as your eye closes ( ...your closed eye) and opens" (p.36), "I close my eyes" (p.39), "You close your eyes" (p.41)
  • "open door" (p.14), "the open and close of a back door" (p.27), "he opened his door" (p.31), "to open the door" (p.31), "shopdoor bell" (p.34)

He sometimes uses spacing within lines, and line-feeds with carriage returns - e.g. "One" has

untellable, a curve away.
                           One day

we will surely pull into ourselves,
meeting-up           in loop

I like "Skin Contact". I like "Nymph" too, though the lines are too short for me. "Isostasy" is rhymed. "It Rains During the Night" is in 4-lined stanzas, the lines staggered so that the first line isn't indented and the last night is thrice-indented. "The River Drivers" has an opportunity for line-breaking that the poet found hard to resist.


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