Every time I pick up a book of good poetry and read it, I berate myself for not being a more frequent reader of this genre. I’ve had several books of self-published poetry pass my desk recently and have enjoyed every one of them. So this is the first of a series of reviews of new poetry books, either self-published or from small independent publishers.
This particular book was self-published via the excellent publishing services provider, SilverWood Books, and the first impressions were up to that company’s usual high standards: beautiful cover design exactly right to prepare the reader’s expectations for the content, an indulgent silky feel to the cover and elegant typography within. I think these considerations are especially important for the presentation of poetry – it’s kind of its body language. Setting a cover price for poetry must be tricky, as it is never going to be a huge volume seller, but still needs to be at a price that won’t make the buyer flinch, and I was pleasantly surprised to see this was priced at just £7.99 for the paperback, £4.11 for the Kindle version (even though I admit I was given a free review copy so it cost me nothing!)
Over a couple of quiet evenings curled up by the fire, I enjoyed working my way slowly through this collection. I could have read it faster – it’s a slim volume – but like all the best poetry, it’s sort of book to read slowly, savouring each moment.
With carefully measured evocations of different places and people, I found myself transported from a bewildering sense of difference in Australia to the homely, rowdy streets of Liverpool; from the treasured calm of the Sussex Downs to the cheery bustle of the French harbour of Nice. The poet seems to feel at home in all these places – I surmised that they have all combined to make him what it is today, and though they are portrayed so differently, the reader shared his sense of each one as special. Indeed, as I worked through this book, I felt I was sharing the most affecting moments of the poet’s life, not least because the poems range across such a broad time frame.
Particularly moving were the poems written affectionately in a Liverpool dialect (I imagined my late Liverpudlian grandfather reading them aloud and am sure any Scouser would delight in them) and the controlled but intense emotion of the love poems in the section entitled “Of Separation”. By the way, control was a word that kept springing to mind while reading this disciplined but deeply personal collection.
Dividing the book into sections according to genre worked well, resulting in a book of five acts, each an interesting and different suite of experiences. It’s a book I will keep to dip into again.
ISBN 978-1781320556 (paperback) ASIN B00936UAO8 (Kindle)