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, 26 December 2012

"Escaping the Cage" by Kate Scott (HappenStance, 2010)

A pamphlet with poems from Agenda, Magma, The Rialto, etc. The title refers partly to the constraints of being a parent. Putting her child in its cot, the narrator in "Caged" says "I don't know who in this house/ is behind bars". Later, in "Ghosts", the narrator looks "back through the bars of my self". Characters also escape by coming out, ending a relationship, or swearing for effect (on others and themselves).

The back cover describes it as a "single-voice pamphlet", though within the relaxed free-verse style there's variety. Refrains are frequently used - "I liked to", "Later", "It will take you", "Never mind the", "Sometimes it weighs you down". I get the impression that the poems have been carefully ordered. Imagery is repeated, but in clusters. The pamphlet begins with smiles (p. 7, 8, 10, 13, 19, 21) and laughs (p.5, 14, 16) then there's driving (p.15, 16, 17, 27), snakes (p.16, 18) and skeletons (p.23, 26, 29). The taste of men lingers.

The initial poems are about responding to provocation, or trying to get a reaction. Often the result isn't what's expected. The poems on p.16, 17, 20, 22 are "Smiths Knoll" poems - evocative character studies. "Survival" has some good lines

as one listens for deer in the deep-leaved woods,
to the words of courage and love that come your way
the well-meaning-but-clumsy pats of comfort ...
as you try to find your way alone.

Overall an enjoyable collection. "The Making of the Lady of the Lake" (40 lines) was too long and Freudian for me. Some of the endings sounded rather too punchliney or overstated - "Introduction" ends with "an I for an I"; "Survival" ends with the line "life".

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