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, 3 August 2011

"Party Piece" by Anna Woodford (Smith/Doorstep, 2009)

A pamphlet of 23 poems. "Party Piece" starts the collection, displaying a control of imagery evident throughout the booklet

My mother is taking a turn
  in my killer heels
 - they could topple her -
      the old idol of her body
sways like a Madonna
     shouldered out of a Spanish cathedral

...... Now I can't hold her
back or follow her

Note the "killer" heels that could topple her; her body as idol (the swaying image apt); the line-break after "hold her"; and the final line, where "follow that!" is only one of the interpretations. I hope I've duplicated the indentation correctly - quirky indentation is a feature. "Journey 14/34" (I don't get the title) is 5 4-lined stanzas. The first stanza reads "Her father was driving/not to the doctor's/for all her screaming/but to school". Lines 1 and 3 aren't indented. Lines 2 and 4 are indented by 4 spaces - I'll denote that pattern by 0404. The pattern for the poem is 0404 0704 0007 0405 7071 which isn't entirely random. In fact, the indentation seems painstaking - why a one-character indent? Why mix 4-space and 5-space indenting in one poem? Does each space matter so much? Tab-related printing problems? I doubt it, because a few other poems have irregular indentation too.

In 3 poems the persona has school problems. Old parents feature (sometimes unexpectedly as when "Gran is/ dollypegging dad's nappies"), as does love and writing. There are relationship poems as well -"Engaged" didn't grab me but "Birdhouse" (perhaps the pamphlet's best poem) did. "Big Bed Scene" ends

but we were great
together, the way
I remember it.
Every time I look back
we're getting better with age

I don't know how to interpret those 2 final lines - that the past looks worse each time it's recalled? I don't think the short lines help. "The Tree" is a short-lined single-stanza poem. It begins "When I raise my foot/ off the ground, in line/ with all the other women/ and the couple of men,/ I am expressing myself/simply as a woman with a raised foot" which is a lot of line-breaks.

Other reviews

No comments:

Post a Comment