Reviewed by Paul Lee, Eleanor Livingstone and Richie McCaffery
This is a collection by a poet who seems to me still to be finding his feet, but nevertheless, there is much to admire. The poems do indeed focus on love, but more than its ‘loose ends’—that’s too modest. There’s simple physicality here, humour, acceptance, wry memory, loss and ecstasy. Here are some lines from ‘Heart’:
..... Its slow bang reminds me of sonar,
.....of airbags at rest in a stationed car
.... .then love love love
.....like the shunt of a truck
..... and pillows are beating
.....and walls are vibrating
.....and we’d sooner just smile than sleep.
I especially like the accumulation of images in that sequence and the clarity and control of the writing, which is a feature of all the poems. It’s also good to see so many poems with regular stanzas and regular lines. It adds to the impression of control, and imparts that rhythm I see as a distinguishing feature of poetry. Tait also has the good poet’s gift of sound patterning, some of which, read aloud, is luscious to the ear, eg from ‘Luzhkov Bridge’:
..... Don’t bring me photographs as proof.
..... Swallow its key. Let it tumble and swirl you
.....like a fateful bouquet. Have it snag in your throat.
Some of the writing tries too hard. I didn’t understand how fields “crowd-surf the shadows”, nor how a farmhouse can “like a lighthouse unlock its light.” In the otherwise fine lyric ‘love chord’ the use of the phase “emoticon smile” jars and stops the poem being as memorable as it merits. Funny as it is, ‘Last Night I Slept with the Gas Boiler’ is out of tenor with the rest of the poems in the collection, and should have been omitted. Otherwise this is a fine pamphlet. It was also one of the winners in the 2010 Poetry Business Competition.
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