LISA MATTHEWS: THE DEADHEADING DIARIES
PO Box 990
Newcastle upon Tyne
ISBN 978 0954651 55 8
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This page last updated: 1st September 2009.
|LISA MATTHEWS: THE DEADHEADING DIARIES|
These are artful conversations —even in A SHADOW, A WALL, inspired by an Edward Hopper painting, the writer entices you and excludes:
I WANT you to leave, don't you know that? Then the day will be complete, as the light sets sail away from me.There is often the You — who can be the reader, the writer herself or the person addressed in the poem — a trinity compressed in that small pronoun. This can mix intricacy and intimacy as in SHOOTING THE HORSE
You walked a-while and saw herons.. You could not talk about the blood, couldn't mention the mess. You'd never seen a horse fall like that and as you did, all you could think of was your life at home.Lisa Matthews points us exactly to the details she has noticed, for instance: BE ME
The sun butters the windowpaneCABINETRY
boxed sash steamed ash, the heart as tree, as a ventDUNSTANBURGH
by the dray light of approaching autumnPHOTOGRAPH ALBUM
marks where Granny's knees rest at night to pray.It's a life hung up to the light in the introductory poems but the life is also opaque at times; there's a range of signals that are blurred, fragments of incidents hinted at, as in TIDAL,
I remember everything, don't I?Or, in THE TRICK OF COINS,
the heart, an emotional cattle market the arms of chairs with their stainsBuilding blocks of a life — well, childhood— are displayed here and there but then the writing darts to other territories— wolves, for instance appear, reappear (predators? threat?) and red is often the colour of choice, e.g. for the title of one poem, RED HAND DAYS. Then it re-occurs in other places: MRS OFFERMAN
but she had red hair then, ... she remembers thatIt gets deeper as in SHOPPING
the blood trickle a line of consent we cross, over and over, again and again.FIGUERES
a red rose floating in a desert.A STOVE
like a tiny motor against my palm, pumping red.FRAGMENTARY
a red coat with seeds in the pocket.WILD POPPIES
a big red boat.ROSE II
rose made of blood, a rose that speaks.SOUNDING THE HULL
I wanted a red hand.You get the idea, it is rather more than the national average. This is counterpointed by the appearance of wolves, which appear often. Also in FIGUERES is
The wolf in the breast is breathing frosting the glassAnd they have their own title, WOLVES
as the wolves groomed one another, oblivious to usWhile appearing simple and colloquial on the surface, later reading takes off the sticking plaster and shows raw flesh beneath, the guts of a woman-woman relationship, its checks and balances. The hints and parries comes to fruition in ROSE-FILLED MOUTH where the erotic emerges:
She is full of stars. And roses. You wonder when she'll turn you overAnd there is utter disdain in HONEYSUCKLE
Anais Nin said that there is no life in the love between women, but what did she ever know?(Discuss, using one side of the paper only; or write a poem). In the next instant it is elliptical, cryptic, make-believe and although the "You" is still being addressed that same "You" is being shut out behind a screen of intricate embroidery. One of the sections which comprise these 60 pages is entitled CHAOS + ORDER =EQUILIBRIUM, which might give a clue. There is wilful complexity.
Style notes— Perfect proportions on the cover, an understated but effective single rose — dramatic. In fact the cover IS the entire book summed up, which is more than can be said for most poetry book covers. They are usually dire; the excessively literate are often visually illiterate. The fifty-five poems are arranged into ten sections/sequences and these ten sections could be small novels.
Equivocal, that's the word I'm searching for —we are both invited in, confided to and yet also shut out, can't easily see in. Torn both ways — there's an undercurrent of threat beneath those roses. One last quote, from WELCOME TO THE AIRLOCK (Titles are short on capital letters in the original copy- a new fashion?)
as she turns the handle on the mangle. She's beating the stars out of your clothes, because it doesn't pay to dream, and because that's what love is: protection.It is the duty of poets to put the stars back into anyone's clothes; to beat back wolves and of course, to encourage roses to grow; and DEADHEADING DIARIES manages all this, give or take the odd metaphor.
|reviewer: Pat Jourdan.|