An independent small press poetry review

NHI independent review
The Collective Press
Penlanlas Farm
Llantilio Pertholey
ISBN 1 899449 11 6
6.50 [$12.50]

visit the website of The Collective Press

A subsequent collection is A NED KELLY HYMNAL (Cherry on the Top ISSN 1474-8037)

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These fifty-odd poems are observant and imaginative pieces, with a great sense of time, tradition and place, and a literary recall of past forms and masters, as in FROM THE ANGLO-SAXON:

	Now, truth to tell, that old long song's a solo
	competing with the shriek of gulls, the curlew's cry.
	It tongues those primal etymologies
	which discover travail in travel, destiny in stone.
	It polishes the lapidary eye
	to the challenge of a ring banded by horizon,
	reckons ceaseless seas to put woman on the moon.
Many poems are inspired by, for example, Celtic or Classical legend or myth; as in ARROWHEADS, a poem dealing with museum artefacts, the poet is drawn by the almost superstitious call of the relics of the past:
                    Among the pegs of blunted grey,
                           these little sharps of bright.
                      Each charms yet vaguely hints
       at hammerstones first driving clumsy day
                     under some cobble's goosey skin.
                                The astonishment of flint
                               sparking an idea of flight;
                           how colour may be whittled,
                                      feathered like a quill;
                                     how, flaked out, light
                                  may be chinked back in.
THE BUDDHAS OF BAMIYAN is centred on the infamous destruction of two huge ancient figures of the Buddha at Bamiyan, Afghanistan by the Taliban, with an added flavouring provided by Shelley's OZYMANDIAS:
	Here's what remains: colossal holes in rock.
	Not even legs. Each trunk's just that: hollow,
	an opened, empty, god-sized box.
Cliff Forshaw often manages to blend evocation of the literary past into stridently insistent modern settings and expression, as in LOOKING BACK DOWN THE ROAD, loosely influenced by Rimbaud:
	Those days I'd split without a second's thought. Hit the road.
	Just take off. At seventeen, I'd tramp for miles, hitch a ride
	no place special. Leather jacket like a scarred second hide.
	Signposts for sonnets, truckers' long-load tales for odes.
AFTER BOTTICELLI'S PRIMAVERA sums up the poet's style and typical choice of theme and inspiration:
	Each breath is inspiration now.
	Rainbows pass through
	as I suck the surprise
	of big day into my new loud lungs:
	spring free,
	into colour,
	into motive bloom.
A whole group of poems is influenced by Ovid's METAMORPHOSES; here is a striking example from AMBITION:
	Let me be the envy of my mates
	with a crocodile grin,
	teeth of serrated iron,
	jaws that lock like security gates.

	Gimme: talons, a whiskered snout or twitching ears;
	hooves, suckered pads, fangs or paws.
	Make me a Superhero, Batman's equal, Spiderman's peer,
	the stealthy night-sighted consort of Catwoman.
	Make Nature blush to find me redder by far in tooth and claw.
Nonetheless, as in one of THREE FRIDGE-MAGNET POEMS FOR WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS, he can also turn out pieces of uncluttered, incisive brevity:
	Got love
	mixed up with hunger.
	Got sick
	on the entire contents
	of your deep-freeze.
This is poetry inspired by paintings, well-worn myths and such, often done but, in this poet's case, done exceedingly well and originally.

reviewer: Alan Hardy.