Dreadful Night Press, 2005 - £5.00
This is another poem-and-poem-about pamphlet where two poet friends share the space. It’s becoming a popular idea, for understandable reasons, but one not without problems. In ‘Shake-Out Glamour’, inside the attractively illustrated white card cover there are some awkward accommodations in lay-out, with some poems being squeezed into two columns on the page, presumably to allow for the unbroken alternate page/alternate poet format.
The 24 pages of the collection give the impression that these poets are trying out different styles and approaches, playing with form, with varying degrees of success. Some of the poems I felt could do with being edited down or differently organised; but the poets’ willingness to experiment gives an appealing energy to the collection. In ‘Lost Chords’, the poem which provides the title for the pamphlet, Julie Macpherson writes with zest about a skirt which travelled well:
Compact too—rolled and
moulded into the gritty seams
of my green rucksack. Shake-out
glamour from a tightly twisted
I liked the intention behind some of the poems, even when they didn’t quite succeed. Julie Macpherson’s sonnet ‘Inspiration’ opens well with three nice unforced lines, but thereafter feels constrained by, rather than contained within the form. Gerry Bradshaw’s ‘Waiting’ is slight but great fun, relying on its shape to make it a poem, though I felt something went adrift in the middle. But both poets at their best come up with lines well worth reading again; as in ‘How Is Blue’, where Gerry Bradshaw hits exactly the right note.
I have heard blue
in a sad refrain
on a Parker horn
on the short life road …
I have worn blue
in a cambric frock
on a lusting night
in a lover’s arms.
The Common Reader says of Shake-out Glamour:
I couldn’t work out whether the writers wrote in a similar style or not. I decided it didn’t matter because I liked some of each very much.
‘Chagall’s The Birthday’ by Julie Macpherson had me spellbound with its urgency. It’s my birthday soon and I wanted to recite this poem to my husband or shout it at him:
It’s my birthday.
Go on: do something special –
without being told.
My favourite Gerry Bradshaw poems were ‘To a Gairden’ and ‘How is Blue’. At first I thought ‘Waiting’ was going to be one of those strange poems because it looked oddly set out but after I had read it a few times the shape became absolutely perfect for the words.