NEW HOPE INTERNATIONAL REVIEW

An independent small press poetry review

NHI independent review
CHRIS MAJOR: THE LOWEST LEVEL
White Leaf Press
PO Box 734
Aylesbury
HP20 9AL
UK
ISBN 0 9551932 0 6
3

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CHRIS MAJOR: THE LOWEST LEVEL

The title is printed on a drawing of a syringe adorning the front cover, giving a fair indication of the nature of the contents. In case we have any doubts of this, the second poem, ALL ALONG YOUR ARM'S FLESH, soon confirms it.

	Under long sleeves
	the rut of tracks
	leads all the way back to the hospital.
The bleak message is confirmed by the title poem:
	They tried clumsily to hide
	the plastic bags and pots of
	glue; not one of them above
	the age of ten.
The collection continues on this cheery path until we get to EASTER, in which an unexpected depth of imagery appears:
	The load was so heavy
	you needed help to carry the frame.
	And how you struggled
	when the metal cut your hands.
After this point it's as if we've entered another collection entirely, with NAKED SPICE GIRLS AND A PAT OF BUTTER providing some much-needed humour, and DIRTY BOMB and UPON DIVING INTO TOO DIFFICULT A POEM venturing successfully into concrete poetry. The final poem, COMPLAINT, illustrates the modern, urban poet's dilemma:
	For God's sake stop filling your
	poems with birds and flowers,
	there's no great call for them
	around here.
However, I would suggest that Chris Major has found his own answer to the dilemma in these last poems: not ducking the hard issues, but finding a strategy of doing so in such a way as to avoid the depressing reportage of the earlier poems. It will be interesting to see how he develops.

reviewer: John Francis Haines.