I took my time with the work of Mark Fiddes.
I read and re-read, and then allowed it to percolate for a while.
The recipe seems to be this:
Take a pan of social commentary
Add a cup of literary allusion
and sprinkle with essence of wry
Then reduce over a low flame until it turns to gold
Turn the gold over
It is stamped
This is precise work without being delicate. It certainly carries a weight of meaning in a small space. The language is modern and the punctuation a necessary afterthought. The work is heavy with intent and the word choices careful, and yet, none of this gets in the way of the narrative.
This is intelligent, multi-layered modern Poetry and should be read.
It isn’t perfect, which is almost a relief, and there is in places an emphasis on waste which won’t appeal to everyone. But this is clever, deep and engaging. You can’t ask much more from a first collection.
The Chelsea Flower Show Massacre will be launched at Keats House by Templar Poetry on the 17th March 2015, and is the winner of the annual iShot Award. You can find more information at the sites below.
Michael Daviot is a barely contained explosion of a poet.
He relies heavily on stress and the sometimes pounding rhythm of his poetry drives the meaning forward. He favours strong emotive language and minimal punctuation, allowing the free lines and the consonance to speak for itself. Unusually for a poet versed in performance his work engages shape and contour on the page in a way that supports the intent of his poetry.
The overarching feeling is that of an uneasy intelligence kicking at the bars of conventionality, capable of great frustration as well as great gentleness.
This is well read but not derivative work.
If there is a flaw, and it’s a small one, he can sometimes fall into the feeling of being over studied. But here I am talking about the odd line and the odd occasion.
This is work that shines brighter with performance and if you get the opportunity to hear him read his work I encourage you to do so.
You might want to take body armour.
You can find him on twitter @MDaviot
and he is a regular performer at the Speakeasy in Edinburgh @SpeakeasyEd
On the whole, this is a work of descriptive lyric poetry, shining with simile.
Then, in places, we find the curling smoke of narrative, of warfare, of welfare.
It is a collection in three parts, each with a distinctive feel and elegantly placed by the editorial team.
The poet moves from couplet through the numbered stanzas to free verse, and back again, with confidence and grace. The pace is impressive, largely because the poems are a joy of enjambment. We return repeatedly to insect imagery, sometimes in surprising places, and the buzz of the bee intermingles with the call to prayer and the heat of an unholy war.
The impression given is that of a reserved poet, a tightly contained poet.
The work is elegant and strong.
If it is silk then it is silk over steel.
And, I don’t think that I know him yet.
But I would like to.
The Knowledge is poetry by Robert Peake, who you can find here
and will be released in April 2015 by Nine arches Press
I wasn’t expecting this.
Lach can turn a beautiful line of poetry with the same cavalier indifference that he applies to his musical asides. The strange thing is – I don’t think that he knows that.
This is a transitional collection.
You can chart the journey from the conversation of music to the music of language, from song lyric to lyricism.
In places the autobiographical accents of Betjeman meet the curl of TS Eliot, but the driving force is pure Lach. It screams “What the hell are we doing?” and follows that immediately with a “What the hell am I doing?”
It is unsteady in places.
And Lach, like the rest of us, is a much better poet when he isn’t consciously trying to write “A poem”. There are a couple of unfortunate lines but only a couple and that is rare in an initial collection. There is a firm understanding of rhythm and cadence, voice and pause, which you would expect from a musician. There is a great deal of good here with a flourish of the outstandingly beautiful.
I look forward to the next collection.
If this is what maturity does to Anti beat heat,
I’m good with it.