Poetry Pamphlet Reviews & Features

Run by HappenStance Press

Landfill Press, 2007 - £3.00 (50p P&P)

 

Richard Price’s Earliest Spring Yet is a small, quiet pamphlet. It’s split into three parts: Rays, Earliest Spring Yet, and Languor’s Whispers. They seem to chart the narrative of a rather hopeless ‘I’ pining after a ‘you’, who eventually reciprocates. The poems are characterized by their brevity (six words per line in an sixteen line poem is not an uncommon occurrence) and, as a consequence of this shortness, very densely packed meaning.

 

At its best, this shortness of things drives Price to brilliant economy of language. My favourite poem, ‘Channel Link’, begins with the great line, “Even stations move.”

 

At other times, however, the effect is less pleasant. Many of the poems turn in on themselves so quickly that they can feel artificial. Price makes use of various techniques to create changes of direction or signal pauses in thought, which, en masse, can be a little too much: lots of self-interrogatory questions, ellipsis, dashes and so on. For example, ‘About this’ begins:

 

An intrusion? —to think of you

 

walking and thinking, walking and

 

not thinking—of me—

I guess.

 

I…

hope not

 

In terms of characterisation, it makes the poetic ‘voice’ of this pamphlet sound very young and somewhat pathetic; difficult to empathize with. I felt sure, at the same time, that this was the point, but couldn’t work out why it was the point. At the end of the day, I felt convinced that several of the poems must, surely, be very clever, somehow, but (and this is important) didn’t feel like I’d missed out on much by not knowing.

 

I’d say this is a pamphlet for a particular type of reader: if you like decoding convolutions such as the above, then it’s for you, and you’ll find a lot in it. Other readers will enjoy some of the poems, but may find themselves trailing off in search of poetic reciprocation….

 

Chris Beaton

 

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