This review is taken from Stand 211, 14(3) September - November 2016.

Jenny King, Tenants (Smith Doorstop, 2014)
Maura Dooley, A Quire of Paper (Smith Doorstop, 2015)
Maura Dooley (ed.), All My Important Nothings (Smith Doorstop, 2015)

Jenny King’s poem ‘German Exchange’ begins with the narrator invoking ‘the future in the past’, an apt motif for a pamphlet where the poems drift between states of recollection and prediction, finding that the past is often in front of us and the future behind. In ‘At The Pump’, someone looks up at a petrol station and finds they’re back in a landscape where they once ‘played in the dusk of chestnut trees.’ Language offers hidden doors in ordinary days. Sometimes, the shift is more dramatic - in ‘Ash’, a young girl is described falling from her own life, headfirst. Poems like Rockery’ and ‘Stag Beetle’ are a return to childhood (‘at once I’m five...’), but shun the rose-tinted spectacles of nostalgia, focusing instead on wartime, guilt and fear. In ‘Rockery’, the child remembered in the poem is found staring at a ‘wartime window’ where ‘a baby sucks at my mother’s breast:

Yesterday I was allowed to watch
but today the twins are sickly
and I’m out here among sharp-edged rockery stones.

War comes from outside
but not their illness. My jealousy caused that.

Tenants is packed with matter-of-fact elegies to family history, uncovered photographs and all that ‘shines in...memory’. A poem called ‘Crossing’ frames some of the pamphlet’s preoccupations, its quatrains structured around the metaphor of a river crossing, spanning the gaps between generations: ...
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