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, 23 May 2006

"The Movement of Bodies" by Sheenagh Pugh (seren, 2005)

A low octane start - the title poem and "Blue Plaque and Memorial Bench" for example don't break into a sweat. The regularity of stanza-length is suspicious too, with passages like "Every year, if I can, I'll walk down that street, as far as the flat that was yours. I'll read the blue plaque on the wall" going through the ruthless sausage machine. "The Curious Drawer" has 5 parts. The 1st part's stanzas all have 2 lines. The subsequent parts' stanza line-counts are 3, 2, 2, 10. Beats me why. Page 31 suddenly bursts into couplets. In general, line-breaks, stanza-breaks and sounds are all pretty arbitrary. The poetry is in the ideas. However, "The Bereavement of the Lion-Keeper", "Pride", "In Love Without" and "Love Is" are not sufficient to justify all the other stuff - 65 pages in all!

In newspapers I sometimes see stories that could be made into poems ("Mavis, 76, regains her sight after sneezing"; "Headstone kills child playing in graveyard") and I've trawled kids' history books for ideas. Add in some ideas from everyday life and you have enough starting points to roll out several pieces using standard development techniques. Tag on punch-lines, chop them up, and you can fill loads of pages if you're allowed to get away with it.

I can see why several of these poems would get into middling UK mags, but "TLS", "Poetry Review" and "PN Review" appearances bewilder me. Clearly I'm missing something - this is after all her 10th book.

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