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, 5 October 2011

"Time Being" by Ruth Bidgood (Seren, 2009)

Several poems are about leaving landscapes, returning to them when they, or the narrators, have changed, then pondering on the difference between then and now, between maps and reality, down country lanes in fading light.

With poems like those on p.37, p.38, p.40 the plot summary is essentially the poem; the idea's spread too thinly amongst too many words. The language goes flat when she wants to make sure we "get" something important, or when there's info-dumping

  • "When he ordered the carving/ of his graduate son's memorial -/ the young consumptive/ so loved, focus of so much pride -/the austerity of grief/ constrained him" (p.15)
  • "Scarcely anyone walks where the pavement ends/ by the busiest road, on rough grass alongside/ cars, tankers, stock-lorries, vans, four-by-fours,/ and once in a while an obstructive tractor/ chivvying a herd of cows. " (p.44)
  • "But then/ one by one, cluster by cluster, as though/ abandoned or overwhelmed,/ the little faraway lights went out./ There was only the pallid mist, thickening,/ a chill in the morbid air, and questions/ it might be better not to ask" (p.56)
  • "Knowing again, vicariously,/ the concentrated life of my/ irreplaceable solitudes, I felt/ it mattered little to be there/ or far away, young or old, even/ alive or dead, as long as that/ uncompromising beauty stayed" (p.61)

"checkng" (p.17) is a typo. "Elegy" is my favourite.

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