half hidden in the shade, hair
tied in a string of cloth. Lucy, who
yesterday was peeling stickers - hearts
and fairies, stars - onto 'I love you' notes'
[from 'Things Fall Apart']
'From There To Here' is Michael Mackmin's second pamphlet from Happenstance. The collection has an overall feel of nostalgia, and moves its way through the countryside, occasionally stopping to make observations about passers by or look over its shoulder at the years before. At dark family secrets - at people desperately trying to express a moment or a feeling that contradicts their family role. The pace of it leads you into a peaceful sense of security, before suddenly putting an obstacle right in your path that looks at you and says 'go on, who am I? Please look at me closely.'
'His heart hiccupped in his chest
like the lump of a pulse in a lizard's
neck. What of it?'
From There To Here is available from Happenstance
The Mermaid and the Sailors by Claire Askew
I'd read Claire's poetry before, in a pamphlet from her MA programme over on Read This, and was very excited to see that she'd had a pamphlet published with Red Squirrel. I did like it very much. Favourites for me, were 'Memory of August, 1999':
'I'm thirteen and a half, and have resolved to be a redhead
til the day I die. I'm sitting on the stainless steel sink,
red-handed, developing like a photograph.'
and the title poem:
'I seem to draw them to me.
They come, stuttering like tugboats
in the dusk - sea-legs unsteady
as they set out their course
across the bar-room floor.'
From humour, to personal, and even to sci-fi, this a great little pamphlet to get your mitts on.
The Mermaid and the Sailors is available here
& my two absolute favourite reads recently have been these two collections:
The Patron Saint of Schoolgirls by Liz Berry
'You brought the wild into our house:
Grimm's wood where wolves crept and panted,
their teeth sharpened to needles on white bones'
'That year, with men turning thirty
still refusing to fly the nest
we married birds instead'
[from 'The Year We Married Birds']
The Patron Saint of Schoolgirls is available from Tall Lighthouse
& Getaway Girl by Terry Ann Thaxton, which is a brave, compelling, terrifying examination of abuse and tangled memories, told whilst visiting the surroundings of the events the narrator describes. It's been a while since a poetry collection forced me to read it all in one go, but that's what this collection did - I devoured it last weekend, and I'm not sure I even stopped to make a second cup of tea. I look forward, but am at the same time scared, to read it again and slower. Dissecting it properly. In the mean time, it's going to continue to hover just over my shoulder, by the window. With this eerie grin on its face like it knows that I'm watching.
I was four and the preacher
had said, When you pray, enter your closet,
and when you have shut the door,
pray to your Father in secret, so I let my father
into my closet, let him lift my dress and sing
in his money-
making tenor voice
save this little
wretch, like me
[from 'An Ordinary Door']
Getaway Girl is available from Salt.