Monday, 4 July 2011

Tears in the Fence 53: hydrodaktulopsychicharmonica reviewed

Issue 53 of Tears In The Fence arrived on Friday, so I spent large parts of the weekend dipping in and out of it. There's the usual excellent variety of poetry, but what sets it apart from many poetry mags is the amount, and quality, of reviews and critical articles included.

It was a nice surprise to find a review of hydrodaktulopsychicharmonica in this issue, and a very good review it is too, by Nathan Thompson. Of course, any poet likes being told nice things about their work, and Thompson does that ("full of some very fine descriptive and musical writing"), but he also talks in detail about what he wasn't so keen on, concluding "It [the book] is slightly overbalanced in favour of the self-contained lyric that doesn't provide (this reader at least) enough wriggle-room." He identifies two Matt Merritts, and prefers the one that "lets the roots hang out a bit and writes more open, multidimensional poems".

I think I agree, in as much as that's the type of poem I'm trying to write now, and enjoy writing most. That's not to say I'm trying to disown anything that's gone before at all, but I'd guess that the vast majority of poetry collections capture a snapshot in time, with the poet frozen for a moment on their way between two (almost certainly hard to define) points on the poetry spectrum. Which is probably a long way of saying that it's good to know that there's some evidence of development!

But anyway, I'm very grateful to Nathan and to Tears... for such a full and well-argued review, and I was particularly glad he chose Variations On A Theme By J A Baker to illustrate the sort of poem he enjoyed.

Elsewhere in the issue there's an excellent review of Gill McEvoy's The Plucking Shed, which reminded me that it's about time I got my act together and posted my own appreciation of a very subtle and surprising collection. And flicking through the latest Magma, I also noticed a review of Tom Duddy's new book. Like Gill and myself, he's a HappenStancer, and I loved his pamphlet The Small Hours, so I'll be seeking out this new collection, The Hiding Place.

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