An independent small press poetry review

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Biscuit Publishing
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Tyne & Wear
NE37 2YW
ISBN 1 904914 22 1

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Seventy-odd poems with a racy, chatty style, with perhaps a tendency to search too strongly for a rather too conclusive last few lines to each poem, a too insistent full-stop. There are many poems of reminiscence, of childhood, mum and dad, and grandmother, and their familial and domestic settings, and of course many poems, and characters recalled within poems, exhibit an Elvis fixation, or more generally an obsession with the time of the 50s and 60s. Even pieces ostensibly rooted in the present have a retro feel about them. Poems make slight nods towards being nitty-gritty and in-your-face, but are generally relatively good-natured and jauntily cheerful. Here are some lines from NANA'S FANCY MAN that sum up Angela Readman's snazzy style and self-confident voice:

	The man who never drank ale,
	and sipped port from a glass.
	A man we never begrudged you,
	because we only saw you hold hands,
	and he seemed nice enough. And
	who we imagined you might have thought
	was one of them funny fellas,
	when you were young.
Graphic, bold images are strewn throughout, as in THE LOVE-BITE:
	Teeth pinching out the colours
	that live under your skin
	like squeezing butter out
	between corn on its cob.
ALMOST ELVIS fantasises about her mother having had sex with an Elvis lookalike:
	My mam in the back of a mini,
	almost French kissing the king.
	Black hair dye running through her fingers,
	Her smeared eye make-up, and his kung fu moves;
	but he wasn't Elvis back then.
NANA'S PAPER PLUMS is a pleasant piece describing her grandmother's taking up of painting to fill in old age's empty hours:
	You, who've never cared for nature's candy,
	when there's Cadbury's, set up your bowl,
	a summerful that cannot be steamed.
	Black bananas, innocuous Granny Smiths,
	in compromising compositions.
Poems could generally do with a little pruning, and they are somewhat repetitive in tone and outlook, but are certainly vibrant and self-assured. THE WOMAN ABOVE ME HAS SEX is a fine, barer example of her style, here resisting any temptation to overdo imagery and detail:
	The woman above me has sex.
	Now and then you hear the creak of springs,
	the bang of a headboard, the Oscar performance
	you want to applaud.
	The soft footsteps down the hall.
	After, the sound of running water.
	The flush, then brew of the cistern.
	I draw the curtains, turn on Depeche Mode.
	Listen, for the click of her back door.
One minor gripe is the rather profligate (and careless) use of 'you' in her poems where often she means 'I' (as above, ending up using both 'you' and 'I' for herself); other times 'you' refers to the general reader, or addresses a particular person the poem is about. This could be ironed out with a little more editing.

reviewer: Alan Hardy.