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, 25 June 2022

"Roddy Lumsden is dead" by Roddy Lumsden (Wrecking Ball Press, 2001)

Poems from Magma, Poetry Review, Snakeskin, TLS, Verse, etc. In the first section all the titles begin with "My" - e.g. My pain. In the notes he mentions his depersonalisation problems and writes that these earlier poems are "an attempt to make some sense of that loss of identity and temporary death of selfhood."

The poems are accessible, with insights and witty turns of phrase, though it seems to me that if he has 3 ideas he writes 3 poems rather than a single, more intense piece. "My Prayer" for example ends with "please may/ the emotional tourist in each one of us/ cast anchor in a sun-spoilt bay", but the 10 lines leading up to that do little. Similarly "Escher". I prefer "My Solitude" or "The Lost Boys".

He's also good at eking out the most from lists ("The Cola Venus") and chains of ideas ("Underground Literature"). He uses rhyme sometimes, often rather loosely.

Other reviews

  • Clare Pollard(None of our most established poets, from Duffy to Motion, has laid bare skeletons, vulnerability or pain in their oeuvre, and the idea of writing to come to terms with personal events has come to be perceived as almost the hallmark of amateurism ... Whilst his poetry is technically dazzling, and packed with beautiful and unexpected lines, he often appears to have a paucity of content. This may be linked to his prolific output, and the fact poetry seems to come as easily to him as talking - he often appears determined to work even the most insignificant image or idea into a poem. The second section of Roddy Lumsden is Dead, 'But Sweet,' contains a number of 'throwaways' that could easily have been cut to produce a stronger collection. ... part of the reason why the second section seems weak is because it is an irrelevancy after the dazzling title sequence that makes up the first half of the book. This would have been a strong collection in itself (at 58 pages), and in its urgency, highlights the slightness of the other work.)

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