NEW HOPE INTERNATIONAL REVIEW

An independent small press poetry review

NHI independent review
GARETH CALWAY: EXILE IN HIS OWN COUNTRY
Bluechrome Publishing
PO Box 109
Portishead
Bristol
BS20 7ZJ
UK
ISBN 1 904781 94 2
7.99

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GARETH CALWAY: EXILE IN HIS OWN COUNTRY

Negative nostalgia abounds as Calway place-jumps for reminiscences, and there are enough of them in this 150-page collection of poems (many redredged no doubt refreshingly from earlier poetic fathoms containing previous work selected for publication).In WELSH RUGBY, presumed at the time he was in a junior school in Wales, where he was born, Calway takes positive pleasure when Ma Kinnock sees him break another boy's nose in a game of rugby:

	The game she saw me break Pike's nose was the proudest day of my life 
One has to allow and forgive the poetic slide that game = day. The poem finishes
	It's difficult for the English to understand this. 
		It's why Rugby isn't cricket in Wales
			but War.
STUDENT HOUSE explains that 'there is little sign of a father now,':
	And the unwashed plates, the serving knife,
	Littering last night's supper table,
	Hold a nostalgia, cold but not keen, in the dining room
finishing, to continue bleakly as another place memory:
	For if he ever was here seems oddly irrelevant
	Knowing now he has gone
	And left no address.
However there are poems of positivity which add a little to counterbalance effects of past earthy places and people, such as the more spiritual extracts (e.g. INVOCATION, WORM, FISH, BIRTH OF A HUMAN BEING, ENGLAND 487 and other pieces) all from a previous lengthy sequence COMING HOME, which is described as consisting of 'lyrical stages' and is the description of the ascension of a soul 'journeying through all life forms' to a human reincarnation stage. Technique and the conception of the epic are adequate to convey the story, but I felt it was a story from a teller-poet mechanically done without self-involvement.

Some work will have been enhanced. perhaps, in emotional ephemeral live performance, which sit without comparable attraction on the printed page where there is more time to analyse them. One poem which needs no such boost is SEDGEFORD OCTOBER, previously used in The Rialto:

	Somewhere mellow between
		the end of the overblown blackberries
			and
		the start of the harvested leaves
	fused flies
		on clinical sills
			hint at bleached sun
the complete poem needing no spoken artifice to enhance, and being finely executed.

EXILE IN HIS OWN COUNTRY is a bit cobbled from previous work and not perhaps an effective synthesis. Nevertheless the skills and powers of poet Calway present this as a variegated tome well worth obtaining.

reviewer: Eric Ratcliffe.