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, 23 June 2012

"Of all places" by John McAuliffe (The Gallery Press, 2011)

I'm having trouble getting into these - they're often too dead-pan until the punchline. It's perhaps unfair to quote out of context - the lines might have a delayed, subtle impact - but this is sort of gentle build-up I mean

A dry spell engenders nostalgia for rain.
The news will consider
the negligent doctor
and who is immune to the variant strain.
A Mountain Road
The visitor explained how to make 'A Mountain Road':
as in the original, a line of sea, the road and fields,
which some of us personalized. His had a black hill,

which those without black paint painted a very dark green.
Let the books outstay their return date.
Let it be said that we are sleeping late.
Let the garden continue to grow more like a dump.
Let the room go round this mid-season slump.
observe the stupid fox contend
with a bin, the earthbound worm
co-operate with the micro-managing magpie

There's imagery but little compression - "The foxgloves corked with bees" (p.68) is about as tight as it gets. More often the imagery is commonplace or leisurely - "rusty trees", "Soot gathers at the bottom like cornflakes/ left over in the cereal box" (p.55). However I like "poking the coals into a black on black jigsaw puzzle,/ practising how to whistle and piece things together" (p.55).

Several of the poems are sonnets, or in rhyming couplets, abab stanzas, or abba stanzas, though the line-lengths aren't always very disciplined. "Canvas" may be a comment on Art Criticism. It sounds like found prose. "Marriage, the Realist Tradition" is my favorite.

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