In Their Own Voices
Review by George Wallace, Poet Laureate of Suffolk County, 'patron saint of contemporary mystic realism', Editor Poetrybay (poetrybay.com): Despite it's understated title 'Eight Poets,' is a rich tapestry of writing and performance out of the rural reaches of the UK. I say the word rural guardedly - anyone anticipating a 'throwback' to 19th century versifying or some unfortunate dialect tomfoolery may put their fears aside. This group of Cornwall-based writers offers a satisfying and varied compilation of contemporary poems, demonstrating the rare quality of aesthetic discernment and earth-rootedeness possible in the best of British poetry. These are footfalls of ebullient spirit, resonant with metaphysical moment and a majestically tender gravity. The CD is nicely produced and ably underscored with the improvisational talents of musician Tony Lamb. Lamb, who produced the CD, nimbly jumps from such standard instruments as guitar and bass to bass clarinet, thumb-piano and Puerto Rican Cuatro across the democratically organized sixteen cuts on the CD. In fact the studio production is quite clean and attractive, and Lamb has a splendid range of voices. In no case does the musical accompaniment fail. Paul Newman's 'Titanic' is sinuously underscored with a guitar-riff reminiscent of Apocalypse Now. An oddly urbane Penzance welcomes lost souls in a fast paced 'Holy City,' by Loic Rich, bubbling with a nervous urban musical score. Pam Smith-Rawnsley's stark ravaging account or mental-brutalization in 'Rape' is given greater power by contrast, as Lamb sets the stark words against a gossamer music-box backdrop that reminds us of the curtain of innocence which is all too often torn by experience from the eyes of a human soul. And the CD comes to a jazzy and angular conclusion in Derrek Hines' 'Gilgamesh's Death.' There is much to like in the CD. Hines goes for the psycho-spiritual jugular in Gilgamesh, Bill Mycock offers up a country-style elegy to his father's workboots, and Liz Rowett asks us to 'look up beyond windsloped hawthorne and the squat of hill farms.' Zeeba Ansari's two poems are quite riveting, the first in particular, 'Sunrise, Carn Brea,' has a mesmerizing sleepy quality to it, punishingly infused with a black and blue morning-after bruised-lip feel. The arrangement has a rich bluesiness about it, and the quietude of the repeated 'beaten country' at the beginning and the end makes possible as afterglow the rest of the poem, which is richly swollen and sweetly painful -- 'hauling red through ponds of air, ' 'night which would eat the sand blind,' 'honey rose and loaves are making themselves,' 'the womb line of the night's horizon.' and the slight abstraction of 'courtesies of light...from the throat of the sun, waiting behind to pitch up colossal' through the wombline of night's horizon nude from the making and breathing, breathing into this beaten country.' And both of Victoria Field's poems are stunningly effective. There is a salacious encounter with the erudite and the erotic world of Muscovites in 'Sergei Kuriokhin Wasn't My Lover,' but even better was 'Petition.' This poem has a delightful Santana guitar riff to open up, laid on top of a rolling kalimba-like cross-stitch, that I could listen to again and again. As for the poem itself, it is an altogether a deceptively simple and prayerfully supple thing, delivered amply with a dignified, impassioned restraint, both urgent and classic. 'these are saints without armies drifting in on leaves or shells or stones, their voices soft and strong and long as wind, hearts smooth and white as bone.' Lovely! I also liked how Field urged the wind to 'toll the bell for the limbless child'. It is an urging to all who hear this piece to brush aside the sand and shallow waters to discover the half forgotten face of the miraculous beneath. These are works released, as Mycock puts it, from a 'thicket of dreams,' rearing their heads 'above crag, testing air, wavering like a licorice gun against the sky.'