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, 31 May 2013

"The Night Pavillion" by Naomi Foyle (Waterloo Press, 2008)

Poems from Ambit, London Magazine, Poetry London, PN Review, Rialto, and also some poems that are parts of video poems or a libretto (which explains a lot). The collection is divided into three sections - the first, "Darkroom Debutantes" starts on p.17 and contains some neat-enough imagery

The bookshelf lies in wait,
baring rows of spiny teeth.
I'm the little bird
who cleans its grinning gums -
if I sometimes nick a bit of prose
I am a tolerated thief

"Portrait of the Snow Queen as a Young Bitch" is one of the myth/fairytale retellings pieces -

Glissandos of snow were in vogue that year:
    frigid crystals deflowered my earlobes.
For a colourless fashion that would never last,
    I frosted the tips of my breasts

"Sylvia Plath (ps)" begins "I admire her/ stubborn efforts/ too find a rhyme for orange", later using "lozenges", "edges", and "blancmange" to end lines. I like "The Dance" - some stanzas are xbxb, some are xbxbxb, some are xbbx, some are formless. "Future Tense" begins "Couldn't you tell it was over" and ends "Why were you writing poems -/ did you think it was 1906?"

The erotic (or at least explicit) poems in the second section, "Aphrodite’s Answering Machine", have a prose format. After the riddles in section 1, here we have some definitions - "a funnel of muscle, a meltdown inferno, volative barometer needle of the body's tropical regions, a runaway train - one long first class carriage - flute of flesh lovingly massaged by a constant column of air" (p.42) whose corresponding male analogue is described as "Like a stunning pulse gun with endless rounds of ammunition, or a turret of clay on the wheel, it demands a strong grip - but often the swiftest whisper of pleasure will leave it moist and crumpled in the nest. Also comparable to a hot tip at the races, a shaft of light in the catacombs, one rare lily that springs from twin bulbs" (p.43)

The final section, "The Night Pavilion", reverts to the variety of part I. It has "The Ballad of the Broken-Hearted" with the refrain

But we swore a vow if we were ever parted
  By waters deep and dark and poorly charted,
As sure as God is great we'd finish what we started,
  And find the long-lost cure for the broken-hearted.

But "Duet" ("I shop/ You sauté/ You chop/ I flambé", etc), "Animal, vegetable, mineral", "Things I'm Cool With Now" and "Bonjour, Nouvel An" seem too slight to me.

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