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.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

"The Lost Leader" by Mick Imlah (Faber, 2008)

£9.99 buys you 123 pretty full pages of poetry. No acknowledgements. Some poems have half-page notes, others have half-page prefaces. As often, short poems are hit-and-miss with me - I don't get "Wizard", "John Imlah" or "Stuka" but "Independence" is OK.

The 1st poem is subtitled "(AD)". Soon we get to "(1175-1232)". By page 54 we're up to "(1832)". We reach the year 2000 at about p.100. Many characters from Scotland figure. I can't get used to the pacing - too slow for me at the moment. Here are some examples

For so much blood had spouted out
Of his wounds from the first blow of the bout
That when his eyes fell on the hue
Of the tunic he had put on blue,
He almost fainted in distress
At the ruined state of his warrior dress.

(from "Fergus of Galloway"). It's a translation I think, but that shouldn't be used as an excuse. At least the next example doesn't try to rhyme, but it's not inspiring

A fresco in the church of Santa Maria Novella
in Florence shows a friar urging repentance
on a crowd which seems to resent doing what it's told;

except in a bottom corner, where a singular blue figure
in a dunce's peaked cap and corset is
already ripping to pieces his banned book.

That one is Michael Scot of Peeblesshire:

(from "Michael Scot"). I doubt that I can handle 123 pages like that.

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