Poetry Pamphlet Reviews & Features

Run by HappenStance Press

Flowers Around Your Soft Throat, Christina SeymourWhite cover. Author name large black lowercase in the middle and centres. The s and t of Christina are prominently ligatured. Underneath the title of the pamphlet in much small lower case letters.

Structo Press, 2016  £7.00

An intimate space

These seem like poems written by a person to herself. They are addressed to another, but he is (I think) absent. In each text, the poet is reflective. And in this mode, the voice of the poems is quiet and honest. There’s great sadness and loss: she does not hide this from herself. But there’s also resilience. It’s that kind of alone when you get home, close your door, and breathe. 

It’s touching to be allowed into this intimate space. To be given a window. The pamphlet starts, I think, in mourning. Alone in a new house, the opening poem (‘Lack of Grace’) begins:

So what of this empty street, new blank fridge,
old pictures waiting to be hung?

I like the way it combines concrete everyday objects – that ‘blank fridge’ – and reveries. ‘Since it hurts not to, being-with-you must be compulsory’; and ‘After that realization, it’s always the same way home, past this little fear’.

For me, the experience of these ten poems is rather like sharing a brief time with someone – and an important time, as they process a loss. In that sense, it’s a privilege. But, as reader, we sit quietly to the side. Things are not always explained. Because the dialogue is, in a sense, not with us.

But I like the fact the poems address sadness head-on, as we tend to in the privacy of our own selves. ‘Day one of the rest of my life, / fog seeped in, crime novel noir in the car, / and I found us at the end of the ten hour drive, // my cool face on your warm neck.’ (From ‘It’s not a void if it’s your own heart.’ – and I like these titles – like notes to the self.)

This poem ends:

I simultaneously run away from and run toward.

Here is the safe place: a bird on the building distracted me: shaky black head on
             white chipped doors.

One advantage of this self-talk is it allows great subtlety. I may not expect or follow each twist or turn; I do respect its integrity.

Charlotte Gann