And She Was A Graph Review, Overall average points: 70
Publisher: Liverpool University Press
2015. Paperback. 978 178381793
If you like your poetry simple or as compartmentalised reading and entertainment then beware this book. We have here a verse-novel of 77 pages that rush you helter-skelter through a series of superb poems that sets off with the musical title of ‘Nocturne in Three Movements’. So begins a tale that weaves as mysteriously as a dream, an hallucination in words and images that tease you into almost knowing ……. always feeling.
Part of the blurb says ‘time and narrative bend’ so they do, in a love story. Such an all-consuming love and loss. There is an intriguing blurring of characters, maybe dreams or memories, conversations and activities that flow through the poems. Poems that twist or shove you through to the next that subtly changes style as the theme switches.
Whet the appetite with the following; a first verse excerpt from the opening trio of a poem: second ‘part’ of Nocturne in three parts:
and it was midsummer and they took off north
to the coast, the train running them through
the night like wolves trailing the scent of deer
in a forest of dreams until morning, a song
of sun and blackbird edging around the blinds.
The sea was a gold dress flung across the arm
Throughout the book you catch the repetition that links you back to a former verse maybe a word that is an echo or a hook at the depth of passion and/or loss time and again. Perhaps a little understanding and comfort may be taken from the last poem as it offers a sense of resolution.
Two people intertwined, paralleled, a man and a woman and a vision of their journey into loss. Or through the eyes/minds of the lost, stories of love, of loss. Snapshots but of what? Poems, capsules, beautifully constructed to mesmerise the reader into re-visiting for the sake of the characters and the imagery of the verse as well as charting a story.
The individual poems are free-verse, varied in their stanza lengths but in the first half are often four line verses tailored in layout to give a more current outline. Frequently other poems are varied in layout which helpsthe sense of movement and sudden change during reading. This variation in design is an integral part of the novel and works well in keeping the readers eye. Not in original ‘concrete’ (bar one, if you want to use that term. Other designations are available but I can’t recall or find them at present!!) but taking on an array of line formats. Perhaps I should have offered an excerpt from the very first poem but that would have been the start of a typesetter’ nightmare.
A reconstruction, a re-engineering of a timeless theme that deserves a prize.
The blurb offers comparison to David Lynch’s Lost Highway and Mulholland Drive, to Atom Egoyan and Haruki Murakami. All of which I heartily agree with. You might even conjure with the works of the likes of Fellini and Dali.
It would be unfair tohighlight particular poems as they are all integral to the book. The notes do say that versions of several ‘Esther’ poems had previously been published in New Welsh Review but here we now have a total of 34 poems that make a whole.