NEW HOPE INTERNATIONAL REVIEW

An independent small press poetry review

NHI independent review
GEOFF HATTERSLEY: BACK OF BEYOND
Smith/Doorstop Books
The Poetry Business
Bank Street Arts
32-40 Bank Street
Sheffield
S1 2DS
HD1 1ND
UK
ISBN 1 902382 77 3
8.95

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GEOFF HATTERSLEY: BACK OF BEYOND

Geoff Hattersley has a lovely, easy matter-of-fact style which nonetheless, by cleverly-woven twists and changes of tone, conveys his intensely personal perspective on life, his nuggets of truth, as in SHADOWS ON THE BEACH:

	On the beach at Dahab, the sand was hot.
	It felt good to sit there, to be naked
	and take things easy, to glance out to where
	the women plunged shouting into the sea.
	On the radio, Jim Morrison wanted
	to be loved two times, Ba-by, loved twice today.

	A small Bedouin girl approached,
	a shadow on the pages of my book.
	I looked up, smiled. Shyly, she asked
	if she could eat the apple-core
	I'd just dropped in the sand.
He captures the inconsequentiality of life, the mundaneness of everyday existence, as in ALMOST UNBELIEVABLY:
	When the toast caught fire
	last night and the grill,

	it was the most exciting event
	here for at least three years.
Despite (or perhaps because of) his deceptively straightforward, prosaic style, he can so easily sprinkle here and there such gems as in DESERT:
		Such stillness there,
	as if the earth was taking breath, as if
	history was yet to be invented.
There are poems immersed in bleak Northern self-mockery, some set on an Israeli kibbutz, and others in America. His poems exhibit a wry slant on life, though at times the self-effacing wit or attitude is a little too postured, as stylistically in the juxtaposition of separate incidents, memories or themes. Here is a sample from ECCENTRIC HAIR:
	My suit was at the drycleaners so I wore jeans
	and a denim jacket. I leaned against the bar
	avoiding the eyes of the other customers:
	the place was full of all the fools I'd ever been.
	I heard them getting more and more maudlin.
Here is a typical poem from the selection, THE ONLY SON AT THE FISH 'N' CHIP SHOP, with its idiosyncratic outlook and proneness to a nonsensical cheekiness and, at times, over-laboured kinkiness of style and tone:
	He lived with his mother till he was forty-five
	and no one was allowed to touch his head.

	He worked on a novel for twenty years
	without writing a word. He didn't like people

	who wrote novels. He often drank. One glass of beer
	was too many, two glasses weren't enough.

	Travel brochures were as far as he went.
	A football match, one time. He often said

	'Why would anyone want to think about a potato?'
	He painted his door with nobody's help.
Poems centred around the author's Northern roots often have a charming anecdotal inconsequence, as in THE PERSUADERS, where he and a group of his mates walk
		into the Horse Shoe,
	where the barmaid is a comedienne:
	'Good evening, ladies and beasts.'
	It's Nev's round.
Many poems (rather too many) deal with the soul-destroying tedium of dead-end jobs, as THE NEXT BREAK:
	The sort of job
	where all the time
	you live only
	for the next break,
	the next chance
	to stand outside smoking
	in the freezing wind and rain.
Ultimately, of course, it is the repetitious aimlessness of life that the poet is continuously writing about, as in ALL WEEKEND:
	He paced about the room.
	He stood at the window, and stared out.
	'I can't stand it!' he said aloud,
	but he knew he'd have to.
Although there are rather too many poems (about ninety), many of them banging out the same themes again and again, this is a quirky selection with wry and off-beat observations that is certainly well worth perusing.

reviewer: Alan Hardy.