Poetry Pamphlet Reviews & Features

Run by HappenStance Press

Satyress, Audrey Molloy

A Fool for Poetry Chapbook, Southword Editions, 2020     £6.00

Beastly shenanigans

The Satyress, who stalks the pages of this fabulous pamphlet in her cloven high heels, is a classy beast. She knows her Russian novelists and classical composers.  She isn’t showing off, it’s just that she’s on heat and needs to talk cultivated passion.

In the poem, ‘On Reaching 45, the poet realises she is only 23’, the Satyress emerges, shockingly, from a corseted woman’s body: 

                              the blade nicked my thigh and the tiny
wound ran round my leg tin-opener fashion. Not a drop of
blood spilt, but my flesh rippled to the ground like a silk
stocking freed from its garter on a close afternoon.

There’s lots of skin in this pamphlet. When a Satyress sees skin, she lusts. She meets a doctor:

there was something of the teenager about his forearms,
pale and smooth, his hands with their close-clipped fingernails that
foretold microsurgery

And the consequent coupling is all the easier because:

The best thing about a pelt, I discovered, as distinct from a frock or skinny
jeans, is the freedom it affords shenanigans.

Not that being a Satyress is always comfortable. In ‘Seriously, Siri,’ she tells the maternal voice of the Satnav: ‘My hooves are killing me!’

And even a Satyress feels guilt:

After the opera. A kiss against the wall
in the tomb-quiet, toy-strewn hall;
the squeak of Barbie’s head under her bare heel,
the snap of Lego under his brogue.
Wait! she says, and stuffs on one more load
of socks so she can hang them out first thing.

In time the passion of her affair gives way to A Gradual Eden’:

After the lava had cooled,
hardened like a carapace
on the graves of our marriages,
nothing happened for a while.

[...]

And then we saw a stem unfurl,
and then the flowers came.

And, as the closing poem, ‘Anna Karenina Smiles as she Steps off the Platform’ unashamedly proclaims, a Satyress cannot regret what is, after all, her nature.

This is a gorgeous, sensual pamphlet. Wonderful.

Annie Fisher