NEW HOPE INTERNATIONAL REVIEW

An independent small press poetry review

NHI independent review
EILEEN CARNEY HULME: STROKING THE AIR
Bluechrome Publishing
PO Box 109
Portishead
Bristol
BS20 7ZJ
UK
ISBN 1 904781 52 7
7.99

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EILEEN CARNEY HULME: STROKING THE AIR

These eight sections of poems include some fetching graphics in their 125 pages. The poems are decidedly readable and unpretentious; the poet's thoughts are often offered to the reader in what is mainly first-person poetry within the various situations, but without any portenteous egotistical overtones. Hulme's primary style is therefore a monologue; this sometimes introduces a second person, usually undefined as 'you' and interaction of mood, event &c. In fact the latter entrant, in its vagueness, might almost be an ethereal communicant of an elemental nature and not a human being. Whether one is justified in criticising her for this lack of clarity is a moot point, since the poems read smoothly enough. From SHARED SOLSTICE:

	Like two old ghosts
	set down upon the shore,
	we sought to find the truth
	among the shipwrecked,
	the wind-blown souls
eventually revealing the companionship is all-human since at the end
	We built a fire,
	stayed up all night,
On the other hand the poem opposite KARMA, postulates a 'you' in its second verse
	I want to wrap you around me,
	engulf myself in the salt-sea scars
	of your tangled existence,
	draw sacred shapes upon the shifting sand   
	that represents our past
	our present and our still to come.
Who is this 'you' human, elemental, a personalised destiny, or a benign aspect of the poet's doppelganger? However, GRASSHOPPER, THE PIANIST, FRIENDS UNITED and many other poems are free of this kind of ambiguity, and it seems to me that where tangibility replaces abstractions, a satisfying poem results, as in the lines of MARY (her mother). This starts with
	For years my mother
	polished brass and wood in church,
	her tiny hands performing miracles
	on a daily basis.
Six verses later, her mother having passed away:
	Now when I go to church
	and it isn't often, 
	I look at the shiny candleholders,
	smell the beeswax mixed with frankincense,

	I hear the sound
	of my mother singing
	and light a candle
	giving thanks.
However, the more nebulous sources of poetry in STROKING THE AIR must assuredly be respected in opposition to assumptions of physical realities held by so very many other poets. Until the concept of Gaia or her scientific equivalent is shown to have possibilities, there is only a future in what a poet feels and experiences subjectively regarding elemental forces. Perhaps this poet is making a bridge in the right place and direction and at the right time.

reviewer: Eric Ratcliffe.