An independent small press poetry review

NHI independent review
Smith/Doorstop Books
The Poetry Business
Bank Street Arts
32-40 Bank Street
S1 2DS
ISBN 1 902382 74 9

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This page last updated: 28th June 2008.

Each year, Huddersfield based The Poetry Business hold a Book & Pamphlet Competition. First round winners have a pamphlet of their work published by Smith/Doorstop Books; the overall winner, having submitted additional poems, has published a book length collection.

EXTRA MATHS is a pamphlet of 20 poems and a first stage winner in the 2004 competition. Beautifully produced, in a striking orange cover, EXTRA MATHS represents everything that a good compilation should be interesting and entertaining, having an individual take on life and with every poem making a significant contribution.

This group of poems work so well that I am surprised that The Poetry Business did not offer Hilary Menos the opportunity to publish a book-sized collection.

Drawing upon her personal life, Menos has produced poetry covering an extraordinarily wide range of subject matter. Here you can find recollections of childhood (EXTRA MATHS, the title poem) and a visit to a remarkable, if moth-eaten circus (CIRQUE TZIGANE ), rubbing shoulders with pornographic film (ONE TRICK PONY) and a visit to a slaughterhouse (JUDGEMENT).

Menos is skilled at uncovering the unusual at looking at life with a sideways glance. In NEIGHBOURS, a poem that begins with a conventional description of a rural scene:

	Stonechats chip and bounce above the hedge,
	and swifts surf the breeze
She soon changes the tone as she introduces the neighbours:
		Down a potholed track, old man Tucker
	hawks and spits at crows. His bungalow lurks
	by the barn
And leaves us to wonder if the countryside is a safe place to live:
	When the wind is right we hear Mike shooting rats
	and Kate screaming, Stop, then just screaming.
	She won't last long. There's a witch at Druid's Cross 
	we keep our kids inside on ancient days.
There is often a wry humour at work in these poems, sometimes coupled to a sense of poignancy, as in her poem FAITHLESS:
	I knew him by his hair, more Gabriel
	than Gabriel himself. And how the sparks flew.
	We went to it like wayward souls
But her lover left leaving her nights that are
	loose and strange, I deal in never,
	but dream of an angel's rub and rush of feathers.
Hilary Menos is an accomplished and inventive poet. I recommend this excellent pamphlet as an introduction to her undoubted talents and look forward eagerly to her first full collection.

reviewer: Patrick B Osada.