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.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

"Darkhaired" by Olive Broderick (Templar, 2010)

A pamphlet. I'm not keen on poems that try to describe music. These poems have that feel even when music's not the subject. A poem entitled "A poem only in translation" has a note that says "(after the Eastern European poet who refused to read her poem in its original language)". It's unsurprizing that the poet's not named. There are few proper nouns in the booklet - few specifics, few crisp, incisive phrases or sound effects. Here are 2 of the early punch-lines

A width of water still
Lies between us and
The far shore (p.2)

This is too close to stating the obvious, I think. The next uses many words for an image that's commonly used -

An undetected wave reaches further forward than the last
but is caught by the undertow and forced to withdraw. (p.3)

The wordiness and use of abstracts is clear in this next extract too - "into your domain", "things", "into your own region"

and I can hear how you have been
rising to take my place, drawing
into your domain those things
about me that please you most,
retreating deep into your own region (p.6)

When we get particulars, they don't always mean anything in particular, and line/stanza-breaks interfere

their arms are the closed loop of an
electrical circuit that carries

a compound core-to-core which broken
down will always yield a different

composition (p.13)

Here's another concluding image - nice enough observation, but spread across 3 stanzas the effect's diluted.

Many of the adept steer clear of

the faux pas of nervous beginners;
but there are some who leave their other,

briefly, to offer an invitation
to a novice, lead her to the floor. (p.13)

Perhaps a couple dancing symbolises "body" and "mind", but it's too deft for me. Other readers may love the style.

Other Reviews

  • Sphinx (Jehane Markham, D A Prince and Kirsten Irving)

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