Martyn Crucefix, The Lovely Disciples (Poetry Wales Press, 2017)
Gary Allen, Mapland Poems (Clemson University Press, 2016)
Jane Draycott, The Occupant (Carcanet, 2016)
Caroline Price, Picnic on the Rocks with Frogs (Shoestring Press, 2017)
In Martyn Crucefix’s latest collection, The Lovely Disciples, he turns his acute eye to the tiny thresholds of life. The poems are split into three sections: a trinity that can loosely be defined as recognition, negotiation, and continuation. But a more constant thread reminds that, disciples as we are to the ordinary, there might be something lovely in our small devotions. In ‘As we live’ the speaker finds an ATM receipt in a second-hand copy of Mary Oliver’s Swan. On the reverse, in a shopping list, a woman has scribbled ‘prawnies’. More than Oliver’s transcendental hymns to ecology, this childish slip gives way to the poet’s imagining of ‘the ripple and pulse of dumb invertebrate life’. It’s unclear whether this phrase applies to the shell fish or the woman herself, who is stripped of her ‘well-defended parapets’ as ‘wife and mother and salaried worker’ to something more visible. As the scene tails off, this ‘little match-flicker of identification’, the momentary burn of exposure to a more essential stage of life, ‘may or may not have been rapidly snuffed out’. It is left suspended between voices and pages, lingering amid significance.
There is a clear sense throughout the collection that meaning is always double natured; the honesty of blind belief gives way to playfulness in language. ‘The Boy from ...
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