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.

Friday, 20 April 2012

"Instinct" by Joel Lane (Flarestack, 2012)

Readers familiar with this poet's work will recognise the cityscape. In these 23 poems (written over 25 years; 1st, 2nd and 3rd person poems), there are 7 mentions of "night" and 4 of "ashes". Moths, dust, bruises and dreams feature too, the poems contributing to each other's atmosphere. But before we hit the streets, we spend several poems indoors. "Matt" in particular is claustrophobic - we're told about the walls and floor, then at the end other routes are cut off - "pull down the blinds". The next poem, "Bank Holiday", ends "In the back of your mind, a shutter is closing" (a shutter of a window or a camera?). Windows often are associated with blinds or curtains. Reality has to be read and interpreted.

Meanwhile, words begin to have substance, "coming loose/ from a book's page". The poems are visually tidy - no lines sticking out. 6 poems are in couplets and 6 in quatrains. The only end-rhymes are the bluesy ones in "Blue morning".

The natural world does get a look in though. Eyes, hands, mouths and body fluids are popular. Birds (gulls and feathers), wolves, trees and the sea (4 mentions) provide a source of imagery. Perhaps in "who augments a synthetic pillow/ with these bloodstained feathers" (from "The Cries") the natural and artificially-comforting are being combined.

I liked "Tattoos Inside", "Hidden City" and "Instrumental" the most, though the collection has a cumulative effect.

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