Fine Wine!


Pharmacopoeia and Early Selected Works
, Elizabeth Bletsoe
     (111pp, £9.95, Shearsman)


Oh this is fine wine! None of you homogenised strawberry milk shake siphoned through a plastic stick whilst perched on you table for one next to the toilets at MacDonald's here. No a delicate fragrance with a rich sophisticated body: I'll let the poetry do the work for me here:

                         Watchet

                         blue lias
                         rock
                         the cliffs
                         ‘Watchet-blue'

                        
Celtic Venture
                                from Lisbon
                         takes lumber back
                                Thursday

                          nostalgia of
                          wallflowers
                          that
                          estuarine smell /

A beautiful picture of colour and life:

                         
Stinking Iris (Iris Foetidissima)
                         
Kilve

                          sea- cliff &
                          a green confluence of
                          waters

                           dragged leaves
                                  of flower-de-luce
                           cut your smile
                           in slices of salt light

                           under a fossil
                           triturate, I conceal
                           charred letters
                           for you to dis –
                                          cover /

There is something of Laurie Lee in these works in the use of colour and setting. And there is more than just beauty - although beauty will do: there is a deeper psychological element:

                             
Lachrimatory

                              opened the door
                              found my soul stuffed
                                      full of dead wings

                              the solace, at least
                              of lifting one's head
                                       out here in the open //

                              angel of broken marriages
                                            old photographs
                              all those dead letters sent //

Elizabeth is also acutely concerned with language:

                              
Portrait of Anne Buhre

                               weaving
                               the fabric of the poem
                               around her mystery; //
  
                               impasto
                               of September's greens and auburns, adrift
                               on an up draught //

                               luteal days, on the cusp
                               of autumn's menses
                               the impenetrable dissimulations of the heart.

Elisabeth Blestoe's poetry is a mixture of the unusual and the verging experimental. Modernist by intent and bridging duality of leanings. This work rejoices in colour and place and is formed in a refreshing independence of style. There is a deep symbolism in her work that is centred in the primal existential. And there is a love of language and language for its own sake.

Nice.

           © James McLaughlin 2010