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, 10 September 2011

"Notes on Sea and Land" by Lydia Fulleylove (HappenStance, 2011)

A pamphlet where the existence of one "prose poem" made me wonder why there weren't several others - not so much because the content's prosy (though some Flash Fiction's there), but because the line-breaks and indentations aren't earning their keep (though "Gifts" is in couplets).

The Sea/Land themes in the title are emphasised by the knowledge that the writer lives on the Isle of Wight and that she's been a prison writer-in-residence. The dedication is "for my father". The 1st poem's about moving a chest to a house. The 2nd poem begins "Even when I'm not in the sea/ I am sensing her". So to sea/land we can speculatively add other pairings: containment/boundlessness, presence/absence, mother/father. There are walks and rivers, landslips and boats. All this provides a promising foundation layer, opportunities for cumulative symbolic development. But I don't think the collection makes the most of this - there are too many glancing blows, too much dilution.

"where there is no gravity" has some nice lines ("dust motes yearn to settle on pianos", "water can be wrapped around your hands") along with some weaker, more predictable ones ("the minister cannot keep a straight face"). I'd have liked more poems like "Echo Wing", "Boat-fish", "Ritual", "Estuary", and "The prison and the forest"; fewer like "Adder on Afton Down". A few poems end by repeating the 1st or 2nd line, a ploy that doesn't appeal to me. I think "Night drive" for example could have ended after line 7.

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