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Showing posts from April, 2014

Review: Oli Hazzard's Between Two Windows

Early on in Between Two Windows, Oli Hazzard's debut collection of poems, a description of a journey through a frosty landscape leads to the layered image of "your car, / the image of you / in the image of your car, squinting / out through the windshield for the road's / slick shields of black ice". "Kayak", the collection's final poem, ends with a similar vision of a figure staring into a lake, attempting to look beyond himself. As both poems suggest, reflections in the broadest sense are ubiquitous in Hazzard's writing. Wavering between a conversational tone and an occasionally florid diction, this is poetry that wanders through language's lonely hall of mirrors, making a show of questioning its own observations. Here are speakers who wonder if the windows in which they see their outlines are rooms in themselves, who find the sound of water falls "too quickly", and who - somewhat bizarrely - greet the morning as "colours laid o…

Review: Hugo Williams's I Knew the Bride

"I stand still most of the time / and let the words do the talking", confesses a soul singer in a poem from Hugo Williams's 11th collection, I Knew the Bride. "I might throw out an arm if the mood takes me, / or place one hand on my heart." Darting between authentic feeling, artistic integrity and the flourish of the born performer, it is a striking dramatic monologue, all the more so for being an act of ventriloquism. Poetry of the subtle yet resonant gesture, after all, has long been Williams's speciality. Free from the smokescreen of showiness and the obscure erudition favoured by some, his poems are risky in the real and rarest way – chancing sentimentality and the plainness of being understood. They work to make emotional intelligence appear effortless, rarely ignoring the presence of the readers. "Can you hear me singing?" asks our poet, sound-checking on the mike. Williams's voice might seem quiet amid the babble of the contemporary, b…

Songs

Songs


after Marina Tsvetaeva

for H.


Where did our tenderness come from?
As if yours were the first curls
I’d felt close, ran fingers through.
You’ve kissed lips darker than mine.

The night came cold and starless,
snowstorms swept in from the east.
Though others’ eyes have met mine
with that same, uncertain peace.

But I've never known songs like these,
songs that still go on … the dark
pulled close, my head on your chest,
and the world clear-cut for once.

Where did our tenderness come from?
What to make of it? Love, I imagine you passing me by –
your azure eyes, sharper than anyone’s.