ANDREW HAWTHORN: STRANGE MUSIC OF BONE
10 St Martin's Close,
ISBN 0 904872 30 0
ANDREW HAWTHORN: THEY BECOME THEIR SHADOWS
ISBN 0 904872 38 6
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This page last updated: 11th December 2007.
|ANDREW HAWTHORN: STRANGE MUSIC OF BONE|
This is a strong and varied collection, the title taken from the first poem, WILLIAM BARNES WALKS HIS PARISH.
Like the dialect poet, Barnes, Andrew Hawthorne meditates on the bones of our ancestors, from the discovery of an ancient skeleton during the construction of the Dorchester By-Pass, to the fate of Uzzi, the Bronze Age mummified man. He also deals with political and social themes in poems like HOLOCAUST and FOR KEN SARO-WIRA, both resonant with anger, while the later sections include several fine elegiac and personal poems, like FIFTY YEARS ON AND STILL WAITING, MY SON, MY SON, and ELEGY.
For me, these are the most memorable in the collection, emotion being tightly controlled within a skillfully handled and flexible free verse as in ELEGY
You asked me to return to your photograph albums and trace your gentle smile across the centuryThough the absurdities of twentieth century life lighten a few poems such as THE 10.02 and DOUBLE, the dominant note here is sombre, both thoughtful and thought-provoking.
|reviewer: Pauline Kirk.|
|ANDREW HAWTHORN: THEY BECOME THEIR SHADOWS|
Andrew Hawthorne, like the ancient bards, is a focused poet; his themes are sometimes momentous, and the stories they run through are narrated with a freshness, an immediacy that is often riveting. His sets of poems explore such happenings as the fall of a castle to the Romans, the frantic efforts of the Carpathia to aid the doomed Titanic, and the last hours of Christ on the Cross. Diverse in their locations and characters they are, nevertheless, linked by endings that are also beginnings — the metamorphoses to which all things, tangible or otherwise are subject — from the final stanza of THE AFTERMATH OF CARPATHIA:
And in the brief North light that winter, white the setting sun flamed against her broken hull, her steel was plundered. Sawn, smelted, manipulated, piecemeal and recast in order to be strewn in splinters across the Somme...His poems are short by narrative standards (most confined to one page) but he is not afraid of the longer line. This is well paced poetry with finely judged images: THE CAFÉ AT MORNING:
The waitress yawns toward him, takes his order, slides back behind her counter, rattles cups and saucers, looks nowhere. Her machine coughs and hisses, froths scalding milkThe set of poems from which this comes (THE CAFÉ AT THE SIDE OF LIFE) uses that seedy, impersonal venue as a set on which particular persons drift on and off, where life can be observed: BUSINESS:
The businessmen, briefcases rested and ajar, talk of e-commerce and company cars and sex. One in mirror-shades, perspiring, a red tie, reaches for the sugar...and from where life can be observed — and death: STREET SCENE:
In air-conditioned cars the people pass. Their spirits become disassociated, rise, get left behind and walk along the middle of the road, seek each other in the dark and opposite, at the spot the cyclist died — (RTA and DOA) father of twins — the flowers at the roadside shrine wither and fade.Whether the setting be an ancient castle, a ship at sea, or a scene from a seaside town, each is imbued with its own pulsing humanity. Hawthorne tells us (AFTERMATH) that
we become our shadows— and that our shadows are cast over all landscapes even if...
our voices are only whispers in the wind-blown grass,This is a fine and eminently readable collection — something of a rarity I'd say.
|reviewer: Michael Bangerter.|