NEW HOPE INTERNATIONAL REVIEW

An independent small press poetry review

NHI independent review
IAN CAWS: THE CANTERBURY ROAD
Bluechrome Publishing
PO Box 109
Portishead
Bristol
BS20 7ZJ
UK
ISBN 978 1 904781 63 9
7.99

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IAN CAWS: THE CANTERBURY ROAD

A wandering line is Ian Caw's method loosely tethered with slant rhyme. Almost unnoticed, the line-ends relate to each other, giving a richness, a texture missing in our too-frequent, too-free verse. An example from CLAY, where he wonders about a worker in the quarry:

		Whoever I was in the white country,
	Where the tracks were shining and led nowhere,
		I could find nothing to bar my entry,
	No ditches dug or signs on barbed wire.
The endings of the following six stanzas are:
	sky, excavators, risky, motors

	ending, reflection, understanding, retraction

	was, desensitised, ways, amazed

	long, inviolate, sting, light

	edges, scope, rummages, scrap

	fear,came,fire,name.
Note the stronger rhyme at the last verse. Classic. The world presented here is spacious, contemplative and makes sense. It is the studied landscape of old jigsaw puzzles, with the same unexpected eye for detail at the edges, as in BOAT:
	In time its moorings rotted, splintered leaks
	Pulled the boat under the bank. Fish found calm
	Inside it. People walking on Sundays
	Saw in the river images like film.
Punctuation is meticulous. He is like those wise men who exist on allotments, with their trim lines of seedlings, their packed shelves of twine and utensils, their methods of how to work with soil. And here's the landscape in EAGLES OVER MULL
	Like a secret the island had to tell
	And deliberate as telephoning,
	Two eagles hung, defined by the brash light.
	.This evening as rain, in its season,
	Pushes sky back like an unfinished meal
	I resume my life of care and reason.
It is not surprising to find poems here entitled ELGAR; SATIE; SOUND AND SILENCE, while others are dedicated as IONA; LINDISFARNE; ST BEDE AND THE ANGELS. While other busy poets are rushing along motorways, Ian Caws is travelling deserted byways, being brave enough to detour and again, from CLAY, intending
	    To return from a place without edges,
	  to land that can be measured in its scope,
	where, from the ground some stranger rummages,
	  a bird flies upwards like a paper scrap.
He even stops still and listens, and like John Dryden,
	studying peace and shunning civil rage,
he contemplates that, in MASS FOR THE END OF TIME
	It would be a place where barns
	Fall to ruin and where the dead
	Are less obscure than those who rinse
	The graves for All Souls. I can tell
	You nothing except that I trod
	The lanes and heard the last bell toll.
Do these places really exist? Shades of Gray's COUNTRY CHURCHYARD are looming here. It is Ian Caw's gift to enhance the unnoticed and bring it into the light of today. Surrounded by so much writing that is brutal and trying to shock, paradoxically, gentleness can be the strongest form of all. THE CANTERBURY ROAD is a subtle pleasure to read and at times close to prayer.

Then, coming down to earth, in SOUND AND SILENCE, he also slyly places lines on the dark night of the soul with

	What we could perhaps do with a pencil
	To an officer from the Arts Council.
It's the eleventh book of poetry from Ian Caws surely they must all have heard of him by now?

reviewer: Pat Jourdan.