An independent small press poetry review

NHI independent review
Blinking Eye Publishing
PO Box 549
North Shields
Tyne & Wear
NE30 2WT
ISBN 0 9549036 0 9

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This page last updated: 1st September 2009.

Belying the attractiveness of the covers of this perfect-bound collection are six blank pages in the body of the poetry text making the poetry disappear in the blink of an eye. This might just be a fault in my (pre-publication?) review copy, but on the copyright page the book title is missing and the address incomplete. Nevertheless one hopes the Northern Arts Council wll continue support it is a first BEP book teething and the aim is to encourage poets over fifty who continue writing but receive no or little attention from poetry presses. This policy will need considerable book output to dent the trend, which I believe, with pros and cons, has some justification.

Pat Winslow provides some excellent work, and has already published three collections, with poems in various established periodicals. Concentration on incidents without abstractions or wide vistas or philosophical comment provides a narrow materialistic area within which her work prospers.

An exception is MACMILLAN (the dedicated nursing group) with its deliberations on death.

Much work, as in RISE and THE BALACLAVA, neatly puts the action in charge of the background of, or merging with, the human predicament, which takes second place. From RISE:

	The arthritic stairs rear up,
	creaking and groaning.
and under the second title, the balaclava takes precedence in a car accident. Before this incident:
	All winter she wore it like a collapsed smile.
	Lopsided, from eyebrow to jowl, a flap of loose skin.
	Pedicle head.  A pea in a turquoise pod.
and after it:
	Two spider's webs of broken glass and our heads   
	were jammed up tight, hers, a soft blur of blue wool,
	kingfisher in the creeping fog of late afternoon.

	Then, police lights, men in navy, heavy boots. The balaclava
	slurred sideways, as if to say I told you so, a plain-purl smirk.
Again, various inanimates take over or are concerned with life with her mother, in CUTTING UP SHIRTS FOR RAGS, which
	Opens a picture like a Quick Time file:
	my mother trimming bacon rinds with scissors,

	the blades' repetitive chink as the strips of fat 
	fall loosely onto a china plate.
All these material items appear to aid or dominate remembrance of her mother as a person. What she did or had mattered. There are keepsakes:
	I have her wedding photo by my desk,
	an Oxo tin, Quink bottles, Nivea, Vick.
Succintly, as the poet says:
	It's a sort of holding hands
	my habit of keeping her habits alive.
These turnabout ambiences which appear primary to the incidents which occur within them, are quite common in this collection and there seems an immediate retro-action to reverse the human story in which the situation or the perception of peripherals takes responsibility for causation. Even in non-traditional associations in ON THE EDGE
	An egg yolk eclipses itself on the ground.
	Men go horizontal.
	...    ...
	Feathers land on a car that won't start.
and the woman in CANYON only comes to life in the set via the shopping signs and pluvial geometry:
	A winter afternoon. Look down between the perpendiculars
	of Wright's Dental, Tex Mex Chicken. A woman's struggling
	into the hypotenuse of rain, iglooed in her coat, dragging
	a blue tartan shopping trolley behind her.
Dry humour, the appreciation of detail of what makes action tick, and much originality add up to promising writing which should appeal to many.

reviewer: Eric Ratcliffe.