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.

Monday, 17 September 2012

"Stolen Love Behaviour" by John Stammers (Picador, 2005)

"Stammers' trademark style - literary, kitsch and immediate, often English in its forms but unlocatable in its voice" it says on the back cover. There are no notes.

I was drawn first to "XEMAΣ", subtitled "Centre for Mathematical Sciences, Cambridge". I've been there. Maybe the title means "themas", but I don't know why it should be in Greek. The poem includes phrases like "coherence/ in Tarkheusen's sense of hyper entities" and "computations/ which describe complex halfway states/ only hitherto suggested by Kusama in certain asequences". Maths can sound exotically attractive to those (like me) who don't know much about it.

He goes hyperbolic sometimes

I don't 'go organic' often, but when I do
cash registers explode, shop assistants lurch back
beneath furry earflaps,
     the wild beasts knitted on Iroquois sweaters
                                         leap up,
their hunters let fall their bows,
     returning, at all fleet, to tented encampments of their tribe
to sit wordlessly
     with the Great Spirit.

Elsewhere he takes his time

An awning merely obscures the inner café
from the incontinent oglers into others' lives.
They may still observe the scarlet tablecloth's affray
of sugar bowl, side plates, butter knives,
or the hot, imperious sheen of the samovar,
its steam tinctured with tannin from the mash
(p.16) (sonnet)

And sometimes he writes prose - "I am holding my parents, they are split/ in two separate photographs in a box frame./ They each sit in a wicker basket seat at Kenwood/ with their easy fifties smiles./ They have taken turns in that same seat/ for these Box Brownie snaps,/ but I have placed them side by side", p.22, or writes jazzed-up prose - "You can't fall into the same sea twice,/ as Icarus found when his fangly wings/ dripped him like a drop of candle wax/ into the Aegean with a hiss/ and all his dad's super-adhesive technologies/ couldn't tape him back up again. The poor booby,/ just looking for a real hot tan/ before the idiom of the sun-ray lamp." (p.58)

He can be disjoint - "I wish my life were more coherent./ The pavements are sweating a sort of grey gunge./ I have lost the ability to imagine winter" (p.29)

"Mother's Day" and "The Marshes" are sonnets. "Ask them" is in couplets, though it's one of the least convincing pieces - "Ask them all where it is hid ... ask the ... fortune tellers in their stripy tents ... examine the poles, go to the sun/ You will not find a single clue; it is no longer there for you."

Other reviews

No comments:

Post a Comment