Poetry Pamphlet Reviews & Features

Run by HappenStance Press

One Off Productions, 2006 - £3.50

I have a magnet on my fridge of a smiling young woman with a pony-tail. The smile is gleaming but a little forced. The words below the smile say: “It’s been nice but I have to scream now.”

 

Dark Tales, presented in four sets and written for performance in the Nunney Jazz Café on All Souls Night, make screaming officially allowable. Encouraged, even. I would love to hear this work in performance, because a great deal of the effect depends on accumulation and repetition. It’s poetry written firmly inside the oral tradition.

 

“Within each mind is a well of darkness” the poet tells us at the start. Then, bit by bit, he introduces the “monsters” which “come scrabbling up/ out of this well of darkness”. And very nasty they are too. This is Stephen King in verse form:

 

 

A susurration

as of a thousand grasshoppers.

 

Then a cheeping

as of a thousand chicks.

 

Your spider skin

starts to itch.

 

Again and again the tension builds to the high point:

 

And you scream

And you scream

And you scream

 

If, like me, you enjoy creepy horror and relish the scream effect, this is enjoyable and cathartic. A lot of fun with an uneasily serious edge—especially at the very end, where there is a magnificent twist, which I won’t give away here. You’ll just have to read it…

 

Helena Nelson

 

Available from: One Off Productions, 17 High St, Maryport, Cumbria CA15 6BQ