This review is taken from Stand 215, 15(3) October - November 2017.

Michael Waters, Celestial Joyride (Shoestring Press, 2017)
Clare Brant, Accidentals in the Main (Shoestring Press, 2016)
Keith Hutson, Routines (Poetry Salzburg Pamphlets, 2016)

Michael Waters writes sensual, exciting poetry, fond of risk and frequently exuberant. His hip narratives take interesting perspectives; his elegies are thought-provoking and affecting. Waters’ pleasure in the figurative and musical possibilities of language is evident again and again in the ironically titled Celestial Joyride, a collection which celebrates the miraculous in living.

The poems are arranged thematically, the first dealing in miracles. ‘Madrigal’, with its Latin root in ‘womb’, yearns for memory of that ‘buoyant contentment’, that celestial state before birth. ‘Effata’ concerns Christ’s blind man, blessed with sight, yet scared ‘To blink for fear of the loss of Heaven’. The excellent ‘Punk Prayer’ unites mystic nun Hildegard von Bingen with Pussy Riot in ‘sacrificial orgasm’. ‘Beauty of the World’ opens with Macy Gray and her backing group clapping to the song, ‘As though the response to beauty should be applause’ which, in a memory of the Aegean sun setting, it is. The other side of rapture is despair. The death of Susannah McCorkle (‘American Songbook’) is an example of Waters’ cinematic narrative technique. First we follow the depredations of a raptor, seen by the fated singer from her sixteenth-floor flat, then while one is soaring, the other plummets.   

Our apprehension of death is a dominant concern, from children’s games to a fascinating anecdote about blackbirds. There is an elegy in five sections for a well-known poet (‘Poem, Slow to ...
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