Poetry Pamphlet Reviews & Features

Run by HappenStance Press

Templar Poetry, 2006 - £3.50

Alice is a beautifully produced pamphlet. The glossy cover shows the lapel of a dark purple (I’m sure artists would have a more accurate description) coat or jacket; the back shows the belt. Many of the poems are about clothes, fabric or wool, as in ‘Curio’:

 

In her lap unravelled skeins

that look like carrageen

washed up. Strands flounder

between her fingers…

 

    They’re beautiful, often melancholy pieces, overflowing with longing and loss. They take the reader on a journey from a coffee shop, along rivers, through markets, shops, fog and beyond. The narrative voice is strong and the reader is cleverly told only what they need to know of the people encountered. In ‘A Pan of Potato Hash’, for example:

 

I can see her hands

licked with damson burns

healing…

 

I see clear, a face,

that I won’t describe.

Though something

nourishing, passed

steady between them.

 

    The collection deals with some very personal issues without flinching. But I often felt as I do when a friend drags me unwillingly into an exclusive designer clothes shop. I can see the fabrics are fine and flowing, the cut exquisite, the buttons carefully chosen, but what sends my friend into raptures (and debt, because she just has to have it all) in the end eludes me.

    A CD comes with the pamphlet and it’s always great to hear a poet read her own work. Listening to ‘Helping You Put Your Coat On’ I noticed the power of lines I’d missed when reading myself: “…as you slither/ your withered arms into the ice silk / hollow of its sleeves….”  Weir reads the poems clearly, with no preamble, but I would have been helped, I think, by a brief introduction to each poem, just like at a public reading. I’ve no doubt this is a bold, unflinching pamphlet. I just need someone to take a few of these poems off their hangers and show me how to wear them.

Sue Butler