NEW HOPE INTERNATIONAL REVIEW

An independent small press poetry review

NHI independent review
KATHLEEN McPHILEMY: THE LION IN THE FOREST
10 St Martin's Close,
London,
NW1 0HR,
UK
ISBN 0 904862 40 8
7.95

email Katabasis
visit the website of Katabasis

www
NHI review home page
FAQ page
Notes for Publishers

book reviews
anthologies
magazines
other media

Web design by Gerald England
This page last updated: 11th December 2007.
KATHLEEN McPHILEMY: THE LION IN THE FOREST

Kathleen McPhilemy has turned her attention to politics with mixed results. In REDUNDANCIES a rhyme set up in the first stanza isn't continued into the next, but is picked up with the awkward opening in the final stanza:

	What has happened to the boys?
	Young women with wide-awake eyes
	come and go though opening doors;
	that have such poise, 
	proud prossessors of the actual world:
	but what of the boys?

	Cyber warriors, heroes of hyper-reality
	earphone-sealed from the actual world
	they slouch from school to the corner;
	or, fit for nothing,
	pump themselves up for a life without work.

	Look at the boys:
	woolly hats pulled down round their ears
	warm the space where their butterfly brains
	flitter and shift to the flick of a switch.

	What is it destroys,
	and when does it happened, the light in their eyes?
	Nursery, puberty or the moment they see
	their father with no job, their mother with two:
	what have we done to the boys?
But the overall tone is didactic and the questions try to lead readers to the same line of thinking as the writer. Didacticism continues in A SUITE FOR IRAQ:
	...The prison doors have burst open
	so murderers mingle with the innocent.
	How would you know if someone is just?
	Wrapped in their clothes and language
	they all look foreign and different.

	Empire imposes a peace
	that doesn't allow for difference;
	where everyone learns to speak English:
	you can count the searches for freedom
	among the dead, underground...
which is prosaic.

Where the poetry works is where the politics is more oblique, eg in COLLUSION:

	The grass by the track is sparse,
	the earth shows through,
	brown and sticky as sludgy paint
	or old blood.  At the bridge
	a woman waits for a dog sniffing at clumps.,
	the skeletons of last year's thistles.
	The water is still and murky,
	green and dark, like RUC uniforms.
	There is a ground mist
	so nothing at any distance 
	can be seen clearly.
	It is January, late afternoon,
	at the end of a century.

	Elsewhere, earlier, parked cars
	blocked the road, forming a circle.
	Inside it a man was dying...
Or in A SUITE FOR PALESTINE, based on images from Paul Celan's poems, which includes INSTEAD OF STARS:
	Have you seen those girls who scratch themselves,
	scratch themselves
	till they have sores on their hands
	they wear like stigmata?

	Why would they choose to relinquish for stars
	for a ceiling so low they bang their heads,
	bang their heads:
	self-hatred assuming the suffering of others.

	Was this your prescient self-selection,
	red-coated rose of guilt and blame?
	Are they happy, those girls who bind on explosives
	under their breasts, against their hearts?

	Tainted wethers, culled from the flock,
	monstrously mothers and children of death?
It's these poems that make THE LION IN THE FOREST worth reading.

reviewer: Emma Lee.