That Sort of Book


Dreaming of Walls Repeating Themselves, Pat Winslow
(25pp, £4.00, Templar)
 

Smart board covers housing slim Times Roman quarto poetry in pocketbook size. Very much the templar way and they are forgiven for joining the mad scrum to run poetry competitions simply because they turn out the winners as top class chapbooks.

Pat Winslow is no exception. She writes clear, direct poetry in that free verse, American influenced way and has enough semantic sophistry to add spice to the more fundamental quality requirements of simple (but original) idea and clarity of tone.
 
        There's a different kind of minute

         Where time goes backwards,
 
        Where diamonds re-enter rocks,
        and factories suck back their waste.
 
Personal pacifist vision is a strong seam that runs through the collection:
 
        In time a fist could become a hand again
 
as is the sequence of portraits of people dealing with incarceration - expected when reading a poet that is one of the many currently working in the fashionable role as writer resident in prison. Of course, writing and prison make serious bedfellows and the grim environs - both physical and emotional - make suitable fodder for the poet to speak with a strong melancholic tone. If the predictability of that tone was what I considered the only downside of the book, that is probably as much a comment on the reader and his identification with subject as much as it is a comment on the writer and her work.


For the most part, Winslow is a rapidly maturing poetic voice on the UK poetry scene and deals with the froth and the frith in balanced and equal measure. One page we are sharing the whimsical image description of toads:
 
       ....three shuffling cowpats.
 
Next we are immersed in a mural depiction of the cataclysmic consequence of global warming that is the final and majestic poem ‘Imagine':
 
          ...................One by one
          what kept us apart joins up - Persian,Aegean,
          Caspian, Red, Baltic, North, Irish, Barents.
 
I've always liked those poets that instinctively appreciate the poetry contained in actual language constructions such as the BBC Shipping Forecast and the Football Results (Tooting and Barking 4 Guru Nanak 6) and Pat Winslow is one of those. Poetic delight in the words themselves and in the order in which they are arranged on the page:
 
          Years can pass in a night. This dream is a film of our lives,
 
which is from the title poem. Dreaming of Walls Repeating Themselve is a
n apt title. It's that sort of book.
 
 
          © Gary Boswell 2008