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, 1 November 2014

"Jilted City" by Patrick McGuinness (Carcanet, 2010)

Yet another established poet I'd never heard of. I had to read this book rather quickly, so I probably missed even more than usual.

There are many lines that help poems tick over nicely - for example, "House Clearance" begins "Turn the key: note how the emptiness accumulates/ as you come in; how by being here at all you seem to add to it,// until it fills the corridor with that fermented stasis/ you both disturb and add to as you move", but some lines are asked to do more, in ways I struggle to comprehend. Here are 2 sections from "Blue Guide" -

  • "Noon, the day's South Pole. On separate trains again:/ window to window, each of us learns our sense/ of movement from the way the other pulls away". I don't get the first sentence's comparison, nor its connection to the rest of the poem.
  • "The libre you think you hear in Libramont/ lasts no longer than it takes you to work out the sign/ marked Toutes directions is an exaggeration" - the sole point being that freedom and choice don't last long?

In "Spleen: Cardiff Matchday Blues" there's "the streets gargle their litter./ There's a shop closed on every corner. There's a shop cloned on every corner. In all the papers, deficit, terror, loss,// and at home, deficit, terror, loss". I can appreciate the first phrase, but the rest seems of slight value.

The short poems are no more intense than the long ones. There's a typo on p.23 - "upcurrrent".

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