An independent small press poetry review

NHI independent review
Wild Women Press
10 The Common
LA23 1JH
ISBN 0 9536989 3 9

Wild Women Press
ISBN 0 9536989 9 8

visit the website of Wild Women Press
visit the poet's blog

NHI review home page
FAQ page
Notes for Publishers

book reviews
other media

Web design by Gerald England
This page last updated: 11th December 2007.

One of Gill Hands' poems, HARPIES asks the most direct question of us, the reader, and indeed of her collection of poems:

	Who reads poetry books at all?
This is a question we have heard Ruth Padel ask before, in her weekly Independent column, now immortalised in 52 WAYS TO READ A POEM. Padel asked and answered the question by way of encouraging the reading public to read poetry, especially more modern poetry. Hands is asking the same question by way of exorcising the demon that shadows every poet, indeed every writer:
	Who will read my work?
It is of course, the oldest fear that anyone committed to the obsession of writing asks. In this case Hands compares the questioner to a harpy and this poem draws on the doubts that plague all writers.

She draws on this again in NEVER TRUST A POET, an apt description of the poet in work, rather than at work. This poem shows the sheer desperation of finding ways to tell the story without the distraction of the world around us.

	When the telephone rings
	we just look at it.
	We can't work
Hands has chosen the metaphor of the internet as her catch-all for the framework that defines this book, which she wittily encapsulates in FETISH NEGOTIATION. Here, her laconic musings on the meandering conversations of many an internet chat room, expose the hyperbole involved in such an encounter, albeit just from one side.

Her triptych, DESIRE, shows the reader Hands wry humour: the first of the three, illustrates a novel interpretation of Beatrix Potter's Mrs Tiggywinkle; instead she is shown as an animalistic voyeur, released back into a wild state of nature. Set free by this animalism, the narrator allows the escape of Tiggywinkle, running:

	naked up the fellside 
	ironing abandoned.
LEARNING TO READ, cleverly encapsulates and intertwines the genres of the Janet and John infant primers with the detective novel. We are brought forward to a world where Janet:
	does not have words
	for the way it makes her feel.
Perhaps Hands is commenting on how to deal with the issue of appropriate literature for children after the fact.

Hands uses the medium of pop songs to date another poem, INTERIOR DESIGN, where the narrator speaks to a specific generation: a person that has experienced the 70s, 80s, 90s through popular culture, specifically pop songs, into the present. Now they have become a mature adult with a child and responsibilities. But the narrator brings us from the past to the present through the description of the shared bed, one firm enough to:

	keep our own territory.
The poems contained in this collection all seem hard won, as though they all earned their way into place. Hands probably says it best on the last page of the book, when her narrator states:
	I'm a poet.
	It's what I do.

reviewer: Barbara Smith.

A hilarious surreal collection, in which THE POET (for it is always THE POET, in capital letters) fails to sell her soul to the devil, has problems with a disappearing copy of the only PENGUIN MODERN POETS VOLUME 4 in existence

	Unless it is out on astral loan
is sure
	there is something wrong with gravity
and does not want
	to walk past
	the black hooded thing
	on the landing
who could be the Grim Reaper, but
	She thought he would be taller
Yes, it's a mad, mad world of existential shopping lists (blank, of course) in which
	Every poet needs a poet as a friend,
	especially one who is a Jungian witch.
Gill Hands knows this and explores it in poems that make you laugh and think at the same time.

reviewer: John Francis Haines.