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

"Rain" by Don Paterson (Faber, 2009)

14 of the 29 titles begin with "The". It could have been more. He's becoming more formalist. Stanzas like the following from the "The Swing" sound rather forced.

I hung the rope up in the air
and fixed the yellow seat
then stood back that I might admire
my handiwork complete

Maybe he's more gloomy too - death slips into many poems. Here's something from "Phantom (i.m. M.D.)" which adopts Michael Donaghy's voice, I think

Your eye is no eye but an exit wound.
Mind has fired through you into the world
the way a hired thug might unload his gun
through the silk-lined pocket of his overcoat.

The poem ends

In making death its god
the eye had lost its home in finding it.
We find this everywhere the eye appears.
Were there design, this would have been the flaw.

"Song for Natalie 'Tusja' Beridze" has 4-line stanzas of rhyming couplets, the lines being irregularly long. Here's a stanza

     I have also deduced from your staggeringly ingenious
employment of some pretty basic wavetables
     that unlike many of your East European counterparts, all
your VST plug-ins, while not perhaps the best available
     probably all have a legitimate upgrade path - indeed I
imagine your entire DAW as pure as the driven snow, and not
in any way buggy or virusy
     which makes me love you more, demonstrating as it does
an excess of virtue given your country's well-known talent for software piracy.

There's quite a lot I don't get. The first half of "The Story of the Blue Flower" seems slow to me. At the moment I think I prefer his earlier books. Online reviews include

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