After I bathe. I neatly shave my crack.
I dress. I take my library books back.
Now I have your attention I'll begin.
The first thing that struck me about Caroline Bird's poems was the informal
register, almost chatty style - and of course the confessional. There's a lot of the first person: 'I miss my
Tuesday so much /'; 'Popped out / showered off' ; 'I will be sober on my wedding
day'. We are let in to a poet's world and in no uncertain terms - as the
opening lines reveal. And this is a young woman's world - of which I know
very little; a world of tennis lessons, plates of tagliatelle, red bull,
rugby clubs, abortions, University Poetry Societies, smouldering
relationships, and pubic shaving. I also detect a certain undercurrent of
The Alcoholic Marching Song
For every nip of vodka, he
a problem in the bud, Piss easy.
Bobbly friends with static jumpers
warming their whisky cockles.
He's sailing . He's taming the floor
in a spinning bed. He won't fly
the white flag until he's done
a million, a million miles at least.
Police cars are available, medical attention
is available / Group therapy is available /
Anger management is available// so when
you fall to your knees in a final plea
it's not for the lack of
I'm seeing Margaret Hilda Thatcher penning one of her self reliance speeches
before the Brighton Conference - or more succinctly Norman Tebbit telling the
unemployed in the early 80's to get on their bikes. But then perhaps a young
woman conditioned in the world of tennis lessons, trendy bars, red bull,
rugby clubs and pubic shaving - whilst munching plates of tagliatelle might
see life this way. Yip help is available if the voices in your head allow you
enough space to find it. Yip help is available if the depression or addiction
allows you to open your eyes and crawl from your bed. As is writing good
poetry is available: if the market and your own ego don't capitulate to
bubble gum art and self obsessed inane lifeless claptrap. So much is
available sitting on the poetic sofa stuffing down the saturated fat and
sugar diet of the poetic past. So much is available but for some reason
poetry editors prefer water to tagliatelle.
I'm searching for some poetry and can't really find it. There is narrative
chatty, there is trying to be clever chatty and attempts to shock chatty, but
where are the pure lines of beautiful poetry? Where is my 'I'll arise and go
now...'; where is the fishing boat bobbing boat - black black thingy!' Ok
this stuff will sell, as this stuff always does but its not for me. No new
ground is being broken; the reader is not challenged except in well worn and
cheap emotional ways. But I can see why it has been published. It's very much
in the Carcanet house style which favours safety before the market,
popularity, and easy listening. So if we come in at this angle then these
poems are good at what they do and represent another taste - but not mine.
We need to get away from this stuff and stick the patient back on the
etherized table. For me Bridgette Jones meets Molly Weir has had its day. And
I've really had enough of the internal workings of the female body laid out
before the world to see. I detect a political agenda in this stuff and I'm
© James McLaughlin 2010