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Rupert Loydell describes this latest collection as 50 silhouettes for Sheila Murphy. Silhouettes is a good description for the poems, they are short, easy on the eye and give sharp cameos of the poet's thinking and personal predilections. An impression is gained of a restless mind flitting from place to place, never quite settling anywhere for long but sometimes coming up with the surprising and unexpected.. The opening lines of the first poem APPLAUSE: "The unexpected may be a good place to begin" sums up the poet's approach to many of the poems which seem so often to voice fragmented thoughts interspersed with startling images and results as in FEVER:

	I am quick-witted and easily bored;
	even on the fringes of community
	fashions change every few years.

	Silvery stars sink deep into the ink
	And scatter light. Perhaps it is now safe
	To travel over consecrated ground?
Frequently poems are interspersed with short perceptive comments as in EFFIGY:
	our only real concern is making time stand still.
Also as in SEQUEL:
	Everything changes
	as time slips through.
This quote from DIVINITY is a recurring subject.
	Borders fascinate me, transitions
	between one condition and
	the next: past and future, life
	and death, sanity and nonsense.
	Passing through them to enter.
In REPEAT we read once again
	Borders fascinate me, transitions
	between one condition and the next
A constant preoccupation of the poet.

One has further insight into the poet's mind in CONTAGION, among apparently unconnected stanzas is this one:

	I don't keep copies of letters either,
	just recycle them into my poems.
	That's what I do, that's who I am.
I like the first verse of RATION:
	Food for thought: electronic devices
	eavesdrop as we speak. Shrouded trees
	line the route to an empty playing field
	where skeletons of stories are waiting
	to flesh out inherited compulsions.
There are many poems with this "food for thought" element that made me ponder CLATTER contains the lines:
	How can I think with life rattling by
	I try to do my best, that's all
I wonder how many poets this rings a bell for? Also the associations in FILTERED:
	Strange how the new pack of coffee
	goes from solid brick to powder
	when you break the foil seal.

	Change of state, change of meaning.
	A new world stored in an airtight tin
	After the quiet pouring out.
The poems in this collection are not perhaps "easy" and the reader should not look for lyricism. The poet comments about inaccessibility himself in some of the poems and some may find poems that fall into this category. However once an adjustment to the style is made many will find this collection rewarding.

reviewer: Ron Woollard.

I keep thinking of this book as the Little Book of Death, as that is the subject matter of the entire book. For some people that might be a depressing subject to read about, but the fact is, death and taxes are the inevitable certainties of our lives, and death and love are two of the greatest themes of poetry and life, as Robert Graves once remarked.

Loydell's collection is divided into three parts. The first represents his own personal journey through his father's drawn out illness and death, and the aftermath of grieving and acceptance. The second part takes a wider arc through friends and acquaintances, mostly in the form of memorials and elegies. The final shorter part casts wider again still at the futility of death and killing.

Loydell might seem brave initially in taking on the personal effects of grief, but that is to miss the point of this collection. THE SMALLEST DEATHS raises wider questions about belief in the western world, where living's meaning has become so uncertain, through the questioning and sometime rejection of religious and philosophical belief about the afterlife.

Death is not important to the dead, it is the living that have to make sense of it, and that really is what Loydell is trying to convey in this collection. For the most part, he achieves this by analysing without being cloying, seeking the straightest way of expression, as in the opening poem, NOT MY DAD ANYMORE. Loydell illustrates the living preparing for the impending death, and the sense of confusion and worry that it creates in part I:

	Of course we're worried!
	Part of our life is lost 
	you're missed already

	we hurt, and we're afraid
	of a future
	that's going to change.
In part V, the poet ruminates on memory and its almost intangible action:
	Heavier than we thought
	this burden of memory.
BURNING flashes forward a year after the death. Most people will tell you that a year of grieving after a parent, spouse or child is normal and the anniversary usually marks a turning point in the process. This poem is a bright elegy burning with both the bohemian and nihilist of the process of living and death. Loydell connects the anniversary with Francis Bacon's death, allowing an exploration of Loydell's father's faith juxtaposed with his own doubts, and intercut with the disturbing images that Bacon was famous for:
	We're far too full of the joys of life,
	or worried and scared as we run about.
	We're simply smears of dark pigment,
	But Francis, Dad, you both burned bright.
The second part, THE MEMORIAL STONE, shows Loydell marking the passing of other people. HIS OWN WORDS written for Peter Redgrave, shows Loydell using a technique with language, conveying a fragmentation of thought through words. The effect is a little like that of Chinese whispers:
	Whatever was before
	the texts are texts are broken up
	broken up into before
Later this wash of words and images distil into:
	Whatever was pictures those pictures
	texture and stillness still something missing
	a way of being alive.
With that last line, I can't resist mentally inserting poetry is, art is, a way of being alive, through the way that words may be invested with the power to outlive us.

WHAT WE HAVE DONE is the title of the third part and the first poem that opens it. This poem uses the video loop as a concept and a repetitive device in the poem to great effect. The banality of news reports about tragedies from other places, is developed:

	A video loop is playing.
	The man on the screen starts to cry.
Bearing witness to both death and life, leaves the poet in a difficult place, unsure and unable to completely exorcise the whole taint but that could be said to be the point of the whole collection.

THE SMALLEST DEATHS represents a painstaking gathering of memories and a continual working through of the philosophical points of living and dying. There are many points of view but the reader is left to piece everything together not always feeling satisfied. That is as it should be. The inevitable condition of living is that it is conditional. Loydell makes no bones about that.

reviewer: Barbara Smith.

Rupert M Loydell has taken prose poetry to new heights with EX CATALOGUE. Thirty-one prose poems make up the first section of this collection. Thirty haiku make up the second. Two very different styles of poem, one free of constraints and limited only by imagination, the other seemingly ruled by constraints that appear to limit imagination.

The prose poems make full use of abstract thought. These thoughts are linked, but tenuously as Loydell creates a swirling world of words and images, illustrated deftly in OASIS:

Someone puddle clay into these dew ponds, somebody had tidied up the village green. I really should cut the grass today, before it starts to rain. Spoken roses line up in fragile sentences, our garden is hardly overlooked. Our garden is hardy and over the hills and far away architecture and light from thousands of years ago, seen through a red shift of intention, bring raindust, weather patterns, underwater flowers. Black seas glittering in the sun.
I have quoted this poem in full, as this is the best way to demonstrate its abstract quality. Some of the lines it contains are unbearably beautiful. Spoken roses line up in fragile sentences. is a particularly lovely line. Another line I enjoyed was Our garden is hardy and over the hills and far away. A nursery rhyme song is integrated into abstract poetry as a long forgotten song will sometimes invade our everyday abstract thoughts. The singsong interruption adds yet another note of surrealism.

The haiku section is called STILL PAINTINGS and each poem implies that sentiment as in STUTTER below:

	Exaggerated gestures and 
	bright promises of language
	A world of goldfish meaning
Loydell's language is cruelly precise. The goldfish image illustrating the hopeless futility of a stutterer by the goldfish's own relentless circle around its bowl.

Rupert M Loydell's collection is practically perfect. It is enjoyable, challenging without being heavy, and endlessly interesting. I can make no criticisms. It is a good collection, well presented and of a high quality. It's a book worthy to add to your collection.

reviewer: Fionna Doney Simmonds.