Sunday, 23 October 2011

Eagle-Eyed Imaginarium: A review of Arguing with Malarchy by Carola Luther

This brilliant volume is full of bold leaps of the imagination. Many of the poems are lyrics - where subject and subject matter are often blurred and unstable. The title poem is not entirely characteristic and seems to be some sort of narrative - with an uncertain back story - made up of a series of set pieces spoken by an 'old man' to a character called 'Malarchy', holding forth on themes like 'age', 'truth' and 'defeat'.

The style has the demotic intonations of early Simon Armitage, without its social particularity (but with just as many internal rhymes and half rhymes):

....For a fuck in the dark, I received instruction

on making the break, on the spur, double quick.

Yet, there's also a mythic Freudian quality and sonority which calls to mind Dylan Thomas. It's also a book full of characters - Bohemian, lost, on the other side of the law or respectability or fashion:

..aged gardeners, with their pots and hats and secret

pockets full of dust

The poetry sounds good, and encourages reading aloud, but it also has emotional resonance, based, I think, on the poet's profound compassion for others. At the same time, it is also very anchored in immediate personal reaction and apprehension as if every highly coloured experience has its aftertaste of language!!!!

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