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Marine Objects, Suzannah V. Evans

Guillemot Press, 2020   £10.00 (for Some Language and Marine Objects)

Merging with the sounds of the sea

This is the second of two pamphlets in a beautiful bundle of coastal poems from Suzannah V. Evans. The repetition I admired in Some Language continues in Marine Objects and yet it is not only the echoing of words in this collection that drew me in, but the replication of sounds.

The first poem is literally hissing with the sound of the sea — from its title: ‘sea-wrung, sea-wracked, time-speckled’ to lines such as ‘Spiny, salty, spindly, spumy, submerged’. The poet has also paid intricate attention to the objects she observes, describing them with incredible intensity and reinforcing this focus through the sound of her words when strung together. This is from ‘A how though?’:

Barnacles balancing though tightly balancing
breathing and balancing and barnacled
brittle blushes all spiny and together and a beginning
beginning to merge the brittle blushing objects, all briny.

The alliteration here is so apparent that the poem becomes a tongue-twister; its lines form an incantation, echoing the rhythm and mystery of the sea. As the poet is lost in the details upon which she’s focused, so the spell beguiles the reader.

Evans’ penultimate poem, ‘a tiny, a briny’, confirms her fixation in a kind of riddle:

a curling and a cleaving
a teeny tiny winding
a winding and a wending
always a wending, yes always

The final poem (‘voiced by a barnacle’) describes the poet morphing into the marine object she describes:

I made my tiny briny home, encrusting myself

cementing myself, gluing myself down
with my tiny briny antennae

The alliteration and internal rhyme used in this pamphlet reinforce the impression that — in becoming so familiar with her Marine Objects, so engrained with their detail and regularity — she becomes a part of them, and they a part of her.

Vic Pickup

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