On being yourself: the power of idiosyncrasy
Who could smoothly link a book about Donald Trump with a hen party travelling by train to Bridgend? Annie Fisher can and, in the poem ‘The Orange Lobster and the Hens’, she does so beautifully. She is brilliant at outlining her (thought) journey in such simple clear language, however outlandish the turns that journey takes:
I wanted to sing too — was just about to start
when the orange lobster twitched inside
the pages of my book and suddenly broke free.
The poems gathered in this pamphlet are wonderfully varied, at the same time as richly integrated as a group. They’re really enjoyable. The opening poem, called ‘In Hiding’, is about a child, at least metaphorically hiding: ‘I stayed in there for years’; and there are others about feeling ‘Small’ or perhaps empty. I loved ‘Ghost’:
The page gapes
like an empty plate.
But, meanwhile, behind the scenes something very interesting stirs. The poems are full of imagination: like the ‘long elastic tongues’ of those ‘round-bellied corporate frogs’ in ‘Hotel Restaurant’, and something saner than compromise: let’s call it love. There are loads of examples, and many of the poems are funny as well. One of my favourites is ‘The Massacre’, where she suddenly has to do a clean-up job on a mental image: trying ‘to swap the crimson nightmare / for a plain vanilla dream’ (read the poem). Another (‘Perhaps’) explores a memory of a father, and probes a question:
Was that love? I asked the ghost of the man.
I cannot speak about love, said the man
(he could not).
And all of this carries us towards the final pages: ‘The Deal’ that has been agreed (such a beautiful, communicative poem): ‘I watched her walk back home / over the fields and stiles’. And then, to close, ‘Naming This Place’ – by which time she, and we, feel fully acclimatised to this Annie Fisher world – all the richer for being ‘small’, and so utterly her own:
This unmown patch of grass is called The Universe.