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, 23 February 2011

"The Ambulance Box" by Andrew Philip (Salt, 2009)

He uses short lines and repetition boldly, chanting "time enough" (8 times on p.15), "Even the" (9 times on p.2 in "Summa", a poem I liked), and "one foot on" (10 times on p.36).

I didn't quite see the point of "In Answer to the Questions", "In Question to the Answers?" or the 4 Hebridean Tumbnails (one-liners, each taking a page). I didn't get why "To Bake the Bread" needed 35 lines. One section of "Tonguefire Night" begins "MacAdam, who is not expecting post,/ finds a sizeable parcel at his door// no one about, and the package/ is giving nothing away// he bends to lift it, but the parcel/ is much too heavy for anyone//to heft and carry ben:", which is a mite slow. "Wilderness with Two Figures" adds some variety - one person has a watch, the other a trout.

I liked "The Road from Emmaus" for its two analogies more than its format using step-down lines. It begins "And suddenly as he came he disappears" which needs to be read in association with the dedication to a son who died on his first day of life. "Lullaby" mentions "the arm that held you", the hand, ear, chest and eyes that go to make "the man you fathered". "Notes to Self" begins "His eyes opened/ the way a packed lift opens on a floor// without a soul leaving/ or entering", which I liked, though it illustrates his tendency to surround his best lines with white space.

"The Invention of Zero" has some good ideas snipped into short-lined couplets where punctuation is only sometimes removed from the line endings. I liked "In Praise of Dust" too, which reminds me more of Donne than Auden.

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