Frogmore Press 2004, £3.95
Presented in an attractive cream cover (one poem per page) are three poets beginning to stack up publication and competition credits. Peter Easter takes train journeys, spends time in France and muses over what children teach parents when parents are trying to teach their children. ‘Notes of Summer Music’ quietly and effectively sums up the stance:
…a far-off snake of light across the valley
indicates a train; the forest-furred horizon.
The muted business of serenity—
there can never be too much of this.
Ayala Kingsley shares memories of her late father. In ‘Incognito’, it’s “the signature on the blank cheque/ for emergencies I never used,/ a tape of him singing/ that I don’t play in case it wears out.” And thinking of her daughter:
the chink of your quick footsteps on the path
and the smile that makes me catch my breath.
To me, Rachel Playforth’s poems show most depth. ‘Duck Soup’ ends
I smell my own sweat, sharp and onion-scented.
Stirring with a casual hand, I turn to make a joke,
but falter at how near you are,
how you have rolled your sleeves up in the heat.
Your wrists are so brightly white
against the blackening scars.
‘The Future’ wonderfully captures school-girl memories with yearbooks of purple prose and SWALK, ending
You’d held hands by September,
and in the end it wasn’t me
who told you.
You had a phone call to yourself,
an empty room
to hear the news in.
Unfortunately the cover-blurb resorts to the “distinctive new voices” cliché. Quietness, care, savour of words and sounds, common themes treated without self-indulgence—these are not marketing buzz words—but they do apply successfully to poetry and the three voices here.