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, 20 May 2017

"The best new British and Irish poets 2016", Kelly Davio (ed) (Eyewear Publishing, 2016)

In this case "new" means "not yet under contract to publish their debut full-length collection". The poets have already been in some of the best magazines (e.g. Daisy Behagg has won the Bridport as well as being in Poetry Review, The Rialto, etc). Each of them is represented by a photo plus bio (taking up a page) and a poem. Erin Fornoff's bio is at least 6 times longer than her poem. An alternative approach (and some of the poets have already been involved with them) is for a book to show-case several poems by fewer poets, a format which avoids having over 50 pages of bios and photos. The editor in the introduction writes how, from personal experience in the US, the multiple-poet, single poem format can be useful to the poets.

The introduction singles a few poems out - "Loxodrome" for its form. It's numbered paragraphs, the first 3 beginning with "The journey from", the other 7 with "The journey reimagined with". There are poems with more familiar forms - "Easter Tuesday, 1941" is a sonnet. "Altamira" has stanzas with an aabbx rhyme scheme. "The Skip" has triplets of end-rhyme. "Thrown a loop" is line-palindromic (1st line = last line, etc).

According to the editor, "It's 11.26 in SE13" "explore[s] the various possibilities of the line in free verse". It has gaps in lines, stepped lines, a pair of lines with the same indentation, etc. Here's how it ends.

But when eventually I am rheumy & slow    & worse
than this place which somehow careens on
& our futuristic children ask what the city is,
snatching at my memories for some kind of quiddity,
I will have no other words but the clear
         & all of a sudden
                 'It's a good place to love'

Amongst the editor's "poems I didn't see coming" is "The Apiarist". It begins with "Your heart was like the bees", then there's a section about getting used to the stings rather than wearing protection. At the end the bees swarm away, leaving "my placebo syrup". The final line is "What I wouldn't give to be stung again" - nice, but not a surprise. I most liked "Ideal State" (Annabel Banks) and "Things That Make Us Fly" (Cato Pedder)

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