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.

Saturday 4 September 2010

"The Striped World" by Emma Jones (Faber, 2009)

My first impression is that these poems are mostly beyond the realm of workshops that I attend. The poems whose aesthetics I don't find alien make me think that the other poems might be good too. I liked "Tiger in the Menagerie". That poem's topics are picked up in "Painted Tigers" (which I also liked) and "Zoos for the Dead" (8 pages).

Another recurring topic is that of windows and houses - their instability, and what they reveal.

  • In "Window", the sadness that looked out and the other that stayed in are introduced. "Sometimes they'd meet/and make a window. //'Look at the world!' said the glass. /'Look at the glass!' said the world.". In "Sentimental Public Man" there's "What a blue union there is/between this wall and its shadow,/ this open door and its held world.// Scenery's its thought.".
  • In "Paradise" "The garden is a mythical beast and a pilgrim./ And when the houses stroll out it eats up/ their papers and screen their evangelical dogs".
  • In "Death's Sadness" the 2 appear together "His lookout was a little mirror//He sure was clever. The buildings slid".

I liked "Pieta". I didn't get "Sperm Song" or "Creator" or a few others. As the quote above from "Paradise" shows, she can be obscure. "Equator" would benefit from a prose layout. So would "Exhibit". More generally, she falls back on 3-line stanzas as her default format, rather than prose. Her 4+4+3+3-lined "Sonnet" which doesn't rhyme begins "Here it is again, spring, 'the renewal'./People have written about this before." but this tone is more a reaction to 'yet another year' than 'yet another sonnet'. At the end of the year "The flowers are wan/travellers. They unpack their cases"

That last example shows she can do imagery. Here's more, from "Sentimental Public Man" - "A pill in water/foams and subsides like the sun in water,//it spreads, and is rested". I would have written "setting sun" rather than "sun in water". Elsewhere too she doesn't avoid repetition.

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