This review is taken from Stand 212, 14(4) December 2016 - February 2017.

Desmond Graham, Unaccompanied (Villa Vic, 2015) and Brain Songs (Villa Vic, 2016).

Available in limited hardback editions, and published by Newcastle’s Villa Vic Press, Desmond Graham’s two collections, Unaccompanied and Brain Songs, both represent the poet’s engagement with the processes of thought, mental activity, memory, and creativity. Key to these collections is Graham’s openness and curiosity, his endearing fascination with what happens when we think, remember, or write, and his refusal to simply take these activities for granted. What makes these explorations all the more revealing is the degree to which Graham writes from a first-person viewpoint, giving his readers access to his own experience of these themes. This gives the work human, as well as aesthetic significance, and enables the poet to provoke an empathic reaction from his readers, one born of mutual recognition.

Desmond Graham’s use of predominantly short lines, and fluid enjambments, with little or no punctuation, particularly in Brain Songs, reflects the manner in which his poems often take the form of informal developments of an enquiring stream of thought, based more on the need to ask questions, than striving for conclusive answers. As Graham explains in his introductory note to Brain Songs, his approach has much in common with that proposed by Walter Benjamin in 1936, whereby the storyteller, or in Graham’s case the poet acting as a storyteller, presents his readers with what is ‘less an answer to a question then a proposal concerning the continuation of a story which is just unfolding’. Graham refers to ...
Searching, please wait... animated waiting image