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, 18 June 2014

"The Seacunny" by Gerard Woodward (Picador, 2012)

I think this is a poetry book that's got a chance with non-poetry readers.

"Cow Tipping" is typical of one of his styles, beginning with a stream of images based on observation - cows with "knees locked like a deck chair … all facing the same way/ As though stalled in the middle// Of a pilgrimage … You can walk among them// And feel what it might be like/ To live a thousand times faster// Than your neighbours". The urge to add a punch-line could have been resisted though. "The Seacunny" more linear. "Both Ends of the Island" doesn't work for me.

With "Prezzo" we're back to imagery - "Three babies lift cutlery with arms that don't bend,/ Take a shocking spoonful of their own reflections,/ Then drop them on the floor". Towards the poem's end there's "Now they are selling/ The signs that say 'Closing Down Sale'.// The sulphur of a tiramisu does its slow, tipsy work" - I've heard the sale joke before, and I don't get the use of "sulphur". "Several Uses for a Trampoline" combines observation and imagery for 6 pages. "γ2 Delphini-c - The Cuboid Planet" is fun, but even moreso than previous poems doesn't need the line-breaks.

"I had that dream again" begins "Martin". Martin reels in a robot arm "slightly rusted with a dark// Bling of snails, its hand, three fingers intact,/ Giving, by chance, the diving signal/ For OK". "An Arrow Shower" gets a bit metaphysical about archery - we've all been there.

Some of the later poems aren't so convincing, an exception being "A Poodle Symposium" - a party piece, but good - "in fighting/ Inadvertently perform the death scene from/Swan Lake … They are dogs on sticks, candy floss".

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