An independent small press poetry review

NHI independent review
Kim Taplin
Field Cottage
Old Whitehill

Sixties Press
89 Connaught Rd
ISBN 0 9529994 7 1

email Sixties Press
visit Sixties Press' website

NHI review home page
FAQ page
Notes for Publishers

book reviews
other media

Web design by Gerald England
This page last updated: 11th December 2007.

This is one long poem of 64pp in nine sections, introduced as a poem which

unearths an archetype that today's society needs and undervalues.
Personally I doubt if this society will ever recover from the spate of its own false archetypes of celebrities, fashion and commercially driven images in the media which mask over more fundamental and age-old concepts such as Goodfellow and his aliases of mischief makers. His archetypal disguise is chameleon-like and materialistic. He (why no she?) is a good literary base for a long poem, but I question whether we need to know his provenance and derivatives as vital aids to society, except to disturb one-way adult minds over-conditioned by protocol.

If the premises are exaggerated, on the other hand the themes of Goodfellow, Puck &c find an affectionate and passionate place in the poem. How much is Taplin as Puck or Puck alone on his individualistic way is anybody's guess. Wild but not woolly often in rude rurality, the crude technique of it all mixed with more precise observance comes over, inducing a pleasant latitude of acceptance to the reader (or should do unless he/she is hidebound) as the lines push out any pre-sense of orderly expectation. In parts it is simple to puerile, but put the parts together and an elephantine Puck stamps down analytic or academic opposition to technique and content as he trumpets on his way as the pages advance.

I can't do much better than quote at random commencing with Taplin's observation of Goodfellow, which I suspect is an individual need projected as universal:

	All I can say is that we need him
	like we need soil, and salt, and a good laugh.
Early on we are truly treated to Goodfellow's international standing, although
	But chiefly he's lived in the south of England:
	Pookhill, Pookreed, Poukepit, Poppets
	Puckscroft, Puckstyle, Puckshot, Pugneys
	Puck Hay, Puck Pit, Puck Pool, Puckrup,
	Powk Lane . . .
An enhanced pug dog is an aspect of the mischievous and irreverent black humour:
	Let's have a dog so fierce she said
	that it has to go out with its jaw tied up
	yes let's he said and make it one
	that has the tail curled up and back
	so that everyone can see its arse
There's his cockney streak:
	Goodfelllow's been a cockney in his time
	piled a barrow with fruit when it pleased him
	driven a black cab
	'I seed that lady larfin'' he said once
	& she liked to quote it over & over again
The church gets it in the neck, but then it would:
	now the church had problems   
			 with playfulness
	or with any power 
			not its own
	so when you get
			to the Middle ages
	the priests are preaching 
			the one Pouke
	who was the Devil and
			utterly damned
I commend this poem to the House of Lord Goodfellow, to be swallowed whole as a tonic pill prior to submitting tax returns.

reviewer: Eric Ratcliffe.

The good poetry in this booklet deserves better treatment than it gets. There is an impression, and it may be unfounded but nevertheless it is there, that some of the middle-of-the-book poems with their smaller typeface and crammed appearance have simply been copied from the magazines in which they first appeared; and it is as if these somehow lesser middle-of-the-book poems deserve less favourable treatment than those at the front and back of the collection those in the shop window. That's my gripe. It's now out of the way.

The publisher's note informs that

some of this poetry first appeared
in no less than 14 magazines in Canada, South Africa, U.S.A and Great Britain. These magazines include Obsessed with Pipework, The Swansea Review and Fire. No need to worry about the quality of the poetry then, one would think.

SNOW BUNTINGS AT BARTON POINT takes its title from a verse in part 2 of the opener STUFF:

	when the world is too much with me I pick up
	the phone & dial the South-east birdline
The birdline reports amongst recent sightings:
	a flock of snow buntings at Barton Point
STUFF is a 13 page sequence and in its opening lines it describes itself thus:
	as little kids coming home from a walk
	carry flowers, feathers, pebbles & bits of twig
	so I bring bits & bobs in the mind's pockets
	this New Year's Day.
STUFF's bits & bobs includes birds, books and poets and some other characters who take her fancy:
	a black bullock looks at me over the fence
	his breath smelling so much sweeter
	a worn woman and her big simple son
	pass me in the lane
Kim Taplin excels when describing the great outdoors and the curious things she sees through her birdwatcher's binoculars. Consider the following description in A ROAD TO DOVER, the third poem in the book:
	a brown old woman is sitting against a groyne
	she is hump-backed ...
	she wrestles back her sand-brown legs 
	into her beautiful jade-green tights 

	letting the sea enter where no man enters
	and as she rubs her skin with a gritty towel
	a little water warmed by its sojourn inside her 
	trickles down
Another fine work is her poem BACKPACKING IN THE OUTER HEBRIDIES. Here again, characterization and descriptive writing is her strongpoint. In South Uist a farmer describes the rarely seen corncrakes:
	"Beg as checkuns"  the farmer spreads his hands 
In Harris:
	... a tough man with an eye patch
	talks on the phone in Gaelic and sounds so tender
The theme of Taplin's six published poetry collections, including SNOW BUNTINGS AT BARTON POINT is the
common celebration of the natural world and walking in it
as the cover write-up puts it. That is Kim Taplin's great strength.

In this collection there's a little parading of irrelevant knowledge; the classics and such things. Several poems are sprinkled with names and quotes, when they might be better off without them.

I hope Kim Taplin continues to focus on her bits & bobs, her wrynecks and snow buntings and all the other curiosities spied along the highways and byways for that is her forte. Her fans will then shower her with fivers.

reviewer: Gwilym Williams.