NEW HOPE INTERNATIONAL REVIEW

An independent small press poetry review

NHI independent review
TOM KELLY: THE PICTURE FROM HERE
Sand
P.O.Box 1091
Sunderland
Tyne & Wear
SR2 8WD
UK
ISBN 0 9545241 2 8
4

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TOM KELLY: THE PICTURE FROM HERE

Kelly lectures on drama at South Tyneside College and lives in Blaydon, with family, so the 'here' of the title of this 36-page, 36-poem collection could be local reference to a 'picture' of events and not a painting. But on reading the title poem which starts off unattractively but forthrightly

	In the corner there's an animal
	crawling on its belly
	leaving white deposits 
	on what's left of the carpet.
  
	There's a slug 
	on a baby's stomach 
	been there for hours,
	you want to flick it off.
a double-take is on the cards as it must be a picture, maybe abandoned in in a garden shed or attic or cellar.

NOT AFTER A PAINTING BUT A DREAM is another painting reference but actually a dream. A dream-picture, no less:

	They decided to cut off my right hand,
	then place it in a box with transparent sides.
On waking, the hand is in its right place but the box is still looked for. A nice twist, but gruesome.

There are many other poems, not exactly sophisticated in language and attitude, capable of being admired for getting straight to some point on the reality graph, such as one I liked ONE DAY:

	He's built it up
	beer belly,
	hard look, same as his mates. 

	She's got it:
	tight short skirt,
	loads of make-up,
	chewing, smoking and talking at the same time.

	They've got a place together,
	two kids,
	one to another lad.

	He carries the bairn on his shoulders,
	"One day this will be yours"
	tattooed in the sky.
Again, in ELECTRICITY, Tom Kelly can interchange the painting/reality perspective, perhaps but only perhaps showing some subconscious suspicion of the value of art set against sterner values of everyday life. Or maybe it's just a useful device to entwist interest in a poem, which it certainly does with the statement 'I'd no electricity' when the lights were on and the subject feels like a painting when standing before a mirror
	. . . somehow disconnected,
	as if the plug had been pulled
devoid of energy and purpose. The device reinforces the difference between the real world and something less tangible.

Likewise there is a dig at a period of unreality in XMAS IS OVER. In other poems, the compulsion to dwell on the seamier sides of reality may not appeal to everyone but it does help to unify the thrust and purpose of the collection. "Reality" may turn out to be a parochial mirage in the light of theoretical physics, and the dreamers will come more into their own. Until we are wiser we glory or are repelled within the infrastructure of reality poetry and numerous magazines quoted plus Kelly's small press collections point to interest in this poet.

reviewer: Eric Ratcliffe.