An independent small press poetry review

NHI independent review
Bluechrome Publishing
PO Box 109
BS20 7ZJ
ISBN 1 904781 51 9

NHI review home page
FAQ page
Notes for Publishers

book reviews
other media

Web design by Gerald England
This page last updated: 1st September 2009.

The blurb on the opening pages of this book tells me that FRESH FRUIT AND SCREAMS is Guinevere Clark's first collection and this is clearly a lady who knows how to make an entrance. The cover shows what first appears to be a pink rimmed eye, but is actually an eyeball within a lipsticked mouth. This image is a suitable indication of the poems that lie within.

With a claim that her early influences include, amongst others, Sylvia Plath, I entered with caution. As well I did for Clark's imagery is vivid, dramatic, sometimes unsettling, maybe even downright disturbing, but whatever you wish to call it, it is extremely well written. There is certainly a dark, Plath-like edge to Clark's work which is split into five sections with such headings as: MOON DREAMS AND FIRST LIGHT; OLD LOVES AND NEAR MISSES; TRIPS AND TALES; DESIRE AND PLUTO; and CHERRY BLOSSOM FOAM. From this final section comes LAMBING, a particularly vivid look at the spring births. Here are the last two stanzas:

	Through gashed
	woollen vaginas,
	pulsating flesh knots,
	knitted excrement,
	the new are dropped
	like heavy costumes
	unfolding to the floor.

	Scarlet spills
	as they spew and push
	with the pulls
	that echo,
	like spore spreading
	along the burgundy,
	wet clods.
Certainly not the way one would usually choose to picture the springtime lambings, yet her description is startlingly accurate. Those last two stanzas simply tell it like it is.

To keep up such a depth of detailed imagery throughout a whole collection would be draining to say the least, not just for Guinevere Clark but for her readers too. There are several short and more lighthearted poems to break the intensity including A FLING:

	I was going to write,
		'I love you'!

		I'm so glad
		my pen ran out!
and 6 AM
	I am alarmed from the bed,
		leaving my sprawled dreams
		to sleep with the sheets.
Each of the short poems above show how a few well chosen words can encapsulate a whole mood and feeling.

I found it difficult to put this collection down. It grabbed me by the senses and wouldn't let go. With its illustrations sitting harmoniously with the metaphysical nature of the poetry, I think Guinevere Clark is on to a winner here. I can't recommend FRESH FRUIT AND SCREAMS highly enough.

reviewer: Susan Woollard.