NEW HOPE INTERNATIONAL REVIEW

An independent small press poetry review

NHI independent review
POUL WEBB: SHADES OF GREY
Bluechrome Publishing
PO Box 109
Portishead
Bristol
BS20 7ZJ
UK
ISBN 1 904781 58 6
7.99

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POUL WEBB: SHADES OF GREY

A pre-Katrina NEW ORLEANS sets the scene:

	Colonial ceiling fans offer scant relief
	from the incredible humidity so
	coffee and hot donuts in the sultry
	heat may seem like an odd combination,
	but I guess you have to be there.

	Lit from without by bright sunshine,
	beyond the striped awnings over the open
	verandah, a widescreen cinema of life
	is showing a fascinating daily docu-soap.
	Meanwhile I get stuck in.
Poul Webb is interested in that "widescreen cinema of life" preferably painted on canvas. Colour is a fascination, not least in the long sequence, COLOURS, where two stanzas demonstrate the worst and best of Poul Webb:
	Falling like feathers after a pillow fight
	the first snow of midwinter 
	falls so gently, so quietly.
	It falls stealthily in the night,
	stealing all the colour from the hills
	and the valleys, from rooftops and gardens,
	bleaching everything pristine white."
The snow is twee and uninteresting. Although there is a patterning of "ll" assonance throughout the stanza, the potentially interesting "ow" in "pillow" and "snow" gets buried by banal observations like "falls so gently, so quietly" and "pristine white" and, because nothing's done with it, the rhyme of "fight" and "white" at the end of the initial and ultimate lines looks accidental not deliberate.
	With their heads tucked under umbrellas,
	shoppers are gliding on mirrors.
	In slow motion I follow one glass bead,
	see a perfect coronet as it explodes 
	on the pavement. A miracle performed a
	million times before an unseeing audience
	on a grey stage under a grey canvas.
In the grey stanza, the images, "shoppers gliding on mirrors", "a perfect coronet", are far more interesting. There's more use of assonance and alliterative phrasing. Although the repetition of "grey" in the final line is over-done. Again the pararhyme of "umbrellas" and "canvas" is not made much of and seems to be accidental and none of the other stanzas have this initial and ultimate end of line rhyme.

Poul Webb won the Bluechrome 2006 Award for Poetry with AUTUMN RHYTHM 1950 and its focus is clearly on canvas rather than painter (complete poem):

	He crouched forward like an athlete
	at the starting line, but with a cigarette
	fixed to the corner of his mouth.

	The colour flowed, poured from a stick
	onto the canvas in graceful arcs,
	unravelling the skein, no accident this.

	Feeling the rhythm  at one with the beat
	that played in his head  he was in the painting
	breaking the ice, riding the comet.

	He crept crabwise around the perimeter,
	his eyes never lifting from the action,
	the cigarette in his mouth staying unlit.
	
	The furrows in his brow deeply creased
	as he fought the canvas, so white,
	so challenging, he would not be denied.

	Autumn Rhythm, Lavender Mist,
	the colour flowed, poured from a stick,
	Full Fathom Five, Phosphorescence.
An encouraging debut and, if Poul Webb does maintain the attention to detail shown in the grey stanza of COLOURS, then he will be a solid magazine presence for a long while yet.

reviewer: Emma Lee.