Saturday, 20 February 2010

The New Rosemary Tonks: Emma Jones, The Striped World

When I was reading Emma Jones's admired first collection The Striped World, a few stylistic features put me in mind of the poet Rosemary Tonks, who mysteriously disappeared in the early 70's after joining an unorthodox (i.e. weird) Christian sect.

They're both really self-conscious and they use dislocating metaphor - far-flung connections, multi-layered, and functioning through the use of adjectives and verbs as well as nouns:

When the sun,that gradual sepoy
rose, then clouds occurred

Your heart, greedy and tepid, brothel-meat,
Gulped it

There are differences as well. Tonks exhibits a self-conscious bohemianism whereas Jones has imbibed post colonial literary theory.

In Jones's work, I also sense the influence of Dylan Thomas. In Zoo for the Dead, there are tropes of diving, and discovery and dream-like narrative transformations which remind me of The Ballad of the Long-Legged Bait.

Jones is also a much more philosophical poet:

.............Why say
'innocence ends' when the same

blue bird beats in the chest

It's definitely worth getting.

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