Soundswrite 2005 is the distillation of work by 12 poets, meeting regularly in Leicester…but these are no creative-writing-class plodders – they’re high-octane, high-quality, skilful – and interesting.
Generalisations would fail to do these poets justice, their talents are so individual. So let me briefly introduce them: Helen Jayne Gunn, deft, authoritative, writing about the intimate world of a dog, seen uncensored by a seven-year-old; Elizabeth Rogers, whose taut, teasing eye notes moments of enormous significance experienced in a train, at a photocopier; D A Prince, and her disconcerting ‘Mr Good-guy with a Camera’, the confident seducer who with his ‘glossy perfect’ images manipulates the world; Bernice Read who deals with the world in a very different way: her subtle, delicate family histories give a strikingly new significance to twentieth century material. Unsettling is the word for Ruth Genda: her very special perspectives are dealt with dynamically, her carefully chosen small powerful words explode. And here’s the never-predictable Alice Beer, whose laconic ‘What I learnt in my Pottery Class’ is so characteristically understated, so characteristically telling. Christine Coleman is a feet-off-the-ground writer – literally so, too, with her poems about swifts, about 2 am stars, about love.
Perhaps the wittiest member of this crew is Caroline Cook, with her ‘Trying to come off Gino’; but her darker subjects are strong, and she’s a master of that rare thing, the successful ending. The art of falling, in ‘Poise’ hints at the fragility of the barrier between real and unreal which is Pat Corina’s territory, the ‘lift-off from the everyday’ exactly managed. Lizzie Madder’s world (look at her ‘Turning over 50’) is a particularly positive one: accessible, domestic, celebratory, witty. Karin Koller deals wittily, too, with love – in terms of condensation and convection – in ‘Hot Night’, and her typographical inventiveness is put to good effect in ‘After Rosalind’, which travels racily down the page in a double helix. Sally Festing’s another feet-off-the-ground writer, magical and visionary; she confuses perspectives brilliantly and entertainingly in ‘Saturday Morning’.
But the whole is far more than the sum of the parts, and my space here’s too limited to tell you all they can do. If you want inventive, agile, witty, serious poems, tune in to Soundswrite.
U A Fanthorpe