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, 11 May 2013

"Absence has a weight of its own" by Daniel Sluman (Nine Arches Press, 2012)

Love and death are intertwined, both strongly evoked. In poems like "Dream" the stream of imagery reminds me of Eluard. The imagery's sometimes too disjoint to construct a narrative from; like strangers stuck in a lift, the images have to find a way to get on with each other, and they usually do. Many poems alternate 1-line and 2-line stanzas. In part One, the last line often arrives at a place rather than a conclusion.

Much of the imagery is mainstreamly attractive -

  • "until clouds smooth tracing paper// over the moon. They pull apart/ but waiver [sic?] like magnets// too-close together" (p.16)
  • "estates// where roads writhe in endless cul-de-sac" (p.16)
  • "clasps the side/ of the girl's face like a just-spun globe" (p.31)
  • "tourniquet this moment/ before it bleeds out" (p.43)
  • "My mind settles like a spun coin// warbling to silence. The fresh intimacy/ of your sheets is a currency// I'll fritter on cheap flimsy words" (p.68)

More mysterious is "my midnight resurrections/ trampled lines as I chased myself// into the mirror, a shaking finger muddying/ the bottom of a bag" (p.24). And I'm not convinced that "God sees me// as a tiny pink coffin, wandering// from place to place, waiting/ to fall into the open earth" (p.54) merits all that page area. Why "from place to place" anyway?

In part Three, words can become objectified - "We tripped over commas all summer" (p.59), "hurling well-fed/ adjectives through the air" (p.63), "adjectives prickle/ her palms like rain" (p.64). With so many images, metaphors can become mixed. In "keeling port// down my throat like a ship in a bottle. Waiting/ for the sails to be raised in my ribs, flailing at x", "port" is busy, as are sonics ("sails/flailing"), and the ending's enigmatic (maybe it refers back to the title - "Kiss"). In "Evocation" "the clutch chokes" - I remember when cars had chokes.

In "Holiday" and "So this is what it feels like", the metaphor ratio's lower. The latter in particular is close to prose and has a plot I've heard before as sit-coms one-liners. At times, as on p.54, the clipped imagery lapses into a form of telegramese but for the most part the tight phrasing enhances the intensity. I'm rather surprised that he's not been in some bigger magazines. Early days yet I suppose.

Other reviews

No comments:

Post a Comment