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, 13 January 2018

"Broken Cities" by Katy Evans-Bush (Smith Doorstop, 2017)

Poems from Ambit, PN Review, etc.

There's no "Here and Now".

  • If it's Here, it's now and then - time stops, or "time has warped" (p.8), or there's a comparison of the present with the past ("Field of Fire, 1555", "Prior Bolton's Oriel Window") often concerning London, nostalgia and decay. In "Snowing" (the day after a cremation?) "What was black and grey the previous day has turned to grey and white. Already Dad's dust must be sinking down".
  • If it's Now, it's here and there - abandonment or displacement (parties in ocean depths) though little movement. There's an immobile cat owner in "The Broken City" - "Who are those people? you ask, pointing a finger at the foot of your bed". In "The Great Illness" the character is wheelchair-bound. Train journeys are unpleasant.

"Prior Bolton's Oriel Window" describes an early 16th century scene of a Prior safely watching from on high his monks. He had a house built high in Harrow Hill to avoid dying in floods like the monks, fools and sinners below him. This is compared to us watching our own Prior Boltons on screens, "and they see us, with their data-gathering technology".

"Don't Look Down" is mostly in rhyming couplets with irregular line lengths. There's sing-song rhyme - "Oh, retro moon of London,/ How analogue you are!/ We lost all our signal,/ Down in the cellar bar" (p.21). We're told that

sure could sing:
it made him so rich he could afford to spend all his Christmases
on isthmuses.

but we can't all be so lucky. Anyway "crooning is a form of nostalgia" and "Tony Soprano/ at the piano/ plays like there's no tomorrow./ There is no tomorrow."

I was distracted in "The Milk God" when the poem left its realist beginnings, wondering who/what the God was (a big plastic bottle? a dead person?) - "Next to the sink sits the granddaddy, the sun,/ of all milk bottles. This mighty being/ stands tall and kind of bearded, his translucent plastic/ body almost mystical. Visible inside him/ where it radiates heat, and the smell that forms their atmosphere,/ is the source of his power: a hardened orb/ of golden orange". I had more trouble with p.18, p.19, p.20-22, p.23 (I think a poem that compares the underworld with the London Underground, and Tube stations with Stations of the cross needs to do more), p.26, p.30, p.31 - perhaps an indication that she's taking more risks while I've become more conservative. Does "Gyb" on p.31 mean "Got Your Back"?

Other reviews

1 comment:

  1. Dear Tim

    Happy New Year! We saw Katy and Tamar Yoseloff read at the Dylan Thomas centre in Swansea back in 2011. I like her unclumsy clerihews and think that she's a very talented poet. I was also leaving comments on her blog for about five years until she wiped them all.

    Best wishes from Simon R Gladdish