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, 20 July 2016

"How it turned out" by Frank Redpath (The Rialto, 1996)

Selected poems, with an introduction by Sean O'Brien, who says that Redpath "was a good deal more interested in writing poems than in publicizing his existence. The world responded accordingly".

There are thoughtful poems, some observational poems, some anecdotes, and a few war poems. Coming from Hull, using rhyme, and not sensationalist, he's produced work that resembles Larkin's in places. In "Seen from the Train" there's a Larkin scenario and sentiment - "A supernatural/ Ordinariness announces that tomorrow/ We shall be older but, apart from that,/ Nothing important will alter". "Vacancies" is rather Larkinesque too, but the proportions are wrong and there's no jolt at the end, no sting in the tail. It's tastefully wistful.

"Chapel Band" is pleasant. "Cornered" is a good anecdote whereas "Mots d'Escalier" and p.60-62 are too minor. "New Year Visit" is chatty, and he can be verbose/prosaic - in "Journeys" for example there's "For years we kept a blanket, stitched a badge/ For every town we visited. The rule/ Was, "If we stopped there long enough for tea."/ Somebody washed it, cockled all the braid./ We gave up doing it, and took instead/ To sandwiches and vacuum flasks and breaks/ At odd, unlikely spots in woods, by lakes" which I could use verbatim in a story. The poem ends with "between was where/ I'm glad to say we've been, and were at most alive". This idea of life's significant moments being between the main events is continued in "Between the Frames", and "To the village" is based on a staid idea too. "Palm" and "Conclusions" are thoughtful, without the thoughts being new. "From our cycling correspondent", "Knitting" and "Information About Love" are interesting in a way that Larkin couldn't be.

I think there's a typo in "Notes for a Life" - "We are about a pound apiece" should be "We ate about a pound apiece".

Other reviews

  • Michael Tolkien
  • David Green (There is, by all means, a homespun kindness and generosity of spirit in Redpath's poems that is unchallenging ... a highly likeable collection from a very enjoyable poet who doesn't lose much by not being completely original and being, quite possibly, 'minor')

No comments:

Post a Comment