Sam Morley is a brilliant storyteller, the stories in the poems are written in a language that is dynamic and stylistic as well as entertaining. The work evokes emotions, coupled with strong tension, but not in a heavy way.
With a novel this boldly experimental, it is hard to get very far in a discussion of influences without Beckett’s name coming up. But that is just one of the names in a diverse stew. Danesh said that Beckett and others represent some of the less conscious influences here, and other visionaries more directly inspired the themes, tone, and style of This Place That Place.
Only, how to break into the male-dominated world of film? Not that that was her explicit goal when she graduated, but one thing she did not want to do? “There weren’t many jobs available for a young woman of twenty-one with a degree in comparative literature,” she writes, but she didn’t want to become a secretary. If she did that, “I would irrevocably land on the slippery slope to nowhere.”
The 99 Boyfriends of Micah Summers is not exactly a story begging you to unravel it (the happily ever after is apparent early on) but it does make one thing clear – Adam Sass is just as capable a builder of romance as he is of mystery. And Micah Summers’ story benefits from Sass’s adept management of both genres.
The title poem is a road map to the rest of the collection, both in content and in form. The poem begins with a “cloud of pollen” that chases the ‘I’ and encompasses a myriad of recent occurrences: being “overpowered” by magnolia petals, which the reader might consider positive, but which overwhelms the ‘I’; the “murder hornet” itself, that threatens on a literal level but also represents the consequences of human behavior, such as the increasing frequency of viruses like the coronavirus, weather and climate change, and the horrors in the daily news.
As you move through the poetry in this collection, it may seem as if the writer is resolved to experience her pain in its most primordial form, without barrier, defense, or comfort. Such sentiments break the surface in “Martyr”: “I permit myself neither opiate nor anodyne. I poke my finger straight into the socket—press my tongue hard to the ice-slick chain link.” The atonement of a survivor is operative here, but there is more.
A book about cars, motorbikes, etc? How strange I said to myself and wondered what poems about vehicles would look like. With what enthusiasm would I be reviewing it if I have no attachment or love for any form of transport? I knew that both poets were excellent writers and award winners so that gave me hope. Anxiously, I opened the book and started to read…and was mesmerised from the first few poems.
One of the key tenets of The Writer Laid Bare is the importance of paying attention. This almost obsessive focus is the writers’ stock-in-trade. Kofman calls it voyeurism, but in our attention-starved culture, being able to lock onto the details contained within a moment is more than just a tool to make our work more interesting (though Kofman makes a good case for that), it’s revolutionary.
Throughout this collection the poet argues strongly for the rights of women while foregrounding their innate strengths. She reflects on the way the social order, including the church has conspired to oppress the feminine but also finds solace in the natural world, which is seen as women’s true habitat where ‘Mother Earth embraces each and every one’.
n Rushton’s book, the theme of liminality sits squarely on the interface between the betwixt and between borders of human states and – for that reason – allows the reader to address some of the critical issues of our times, where the fluidity of identity is considered. In the decisive awareness to explore the possibilities that can emerge out of a willingness to stay with ambiguity, the author creates the opportunity to address some of these issues.