Issue 13


Autumn 2014

 

Peter Kenny, The Nightwork, (16 pages, Telltale Press)


This small but enjoyable pamphlet has admirable production quality and is very nicely presented throughout. There are fifteen poems on sixteen pages, and that could easily have been a subtitle, because (almost) every poem sits comfortably on a single page and yet forms a unit which pulls you in to its own particular world.

The poems are straightforwardly constructed, not showy, which is a strength; although occasionally they end a little flatly –

There is nothing to fear
for we share the same journey
and the crew seems certain
we'll get there.

'A sparrow at 30,000 feet'

– which is nicely understated and yet in spite of the carefully generated mood in the earlier poem feels a little like ending with “and nothing happened.”

However there are many more genuinely engaging moments and a wide variety of poetical worlds to choose between. These are not always comfortable: Enslavement is self-explanatory and Heidegger in the forest features the philosopher's musings on an unnamed “Juden poet”:

I consider this fact in a clearing:
his family were fed to the flames
but the fire that dwells in his sorrow
will never defrost my frozen mouth.
He has dogged my solitary tracks,
and I?  I went once to his readings.

For the more personal there are two poems written in memoriam; and Headstone, a sonnet narrated beside a father's grave, is an attempt to separate the child's identity from the spectre of the absent parent.

There is also the whimsical. Ernstophilia presents an actual addiction to the eponymous Dadaist.  An adumbration of the light age hales from a distant future and explains what little is known of the “elephant, aardvark, carp, bee, bee-eater and turn” and the “species of squinting hominid” who once inhabited the light. Finally, of Ophelia, the narrator can only conclude:

I'm not sure if you want me
to lift you up or hold you under.

'Ophelia'

Standing out for me, my favourite is grotesque, bloody; and doesn't spare us the autopsy:

feathers ingrowing
shafts like corkscrews
coiled around sinews
feathers in their stomach lining
feathers like asbestos in lungs

'Revolution of the eagles'

Overall a very enjoyable short read and the quality of materials and presentation are a great bonus.  I am interested to see both what author and publisher come up with next.

Ian Badcoe

long