Poetry Pamphlet Reviews & Features

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If you’ve always wanted an allotment but live in a city and your parents didn’t put your name on the waiting list within a week of your birth; or if you like the idea of fresh produce but aren’t so keen on digging and weeding and the backache that usually accompanies such activities, Elastic Glue by Kathy Pimlott is the plot you need.

In the poem ‘Taxonomy’you’ll find yourself among all kinds of people including architects and lecturers, who

                         [...] plant Florence
fennel, blue potatoes, then disappear
all summer to eat ratatouille in Provence.

For many years I had an allotment and felt like a novice Jedi being tutored by my allotment Yoda, John King (All Hail to his patience and wisdom), who — just for the record — had been tending his plot since the whole nation was encouraged to dig for victory. JK is alive and digging in ‘Taxonomy’; he is one of the very old, who

dig in relegated suits. They like a bonfire,
Bordeaux Mixture. They clean their tools
and forge a kinship with the Hippy via
a shared contempt for other people’s rules.

Just seeing the words ‘Bordeaux Mixture’ conjures the smell of JK’s Moneymaker tomatoes. And it could be JK speaking when the narrator of ‘Taxonomy’ says of ‘the Hippy’, that he’s

Surprisingly touchy for a Buddhist and a vegan,
he bangs on and on about how he should be Head
or, at very least, Treasurer of the Association.

Of course, JK had no time for the Association. He was too busy either growing stuff or doing battle. He strides, through ‘Remedies against Enemies’, with his instructions: ‘spray / by means of a syringe with arsenate / of lead, tar oil, slaked sulphur flowers’ and

Drop in a lump of potassium cyanide,
walnut sized, then, carefully some water.
Seal with turf. Retire without loss of time.

A man with not much time for poetry, JK’s only gripe would have been with ‘Taxonomy’s closing assertion that ‘Everyone likes cake’.

Like cake Yoda not.

Sue Butler