Tuesday, 8 November 2005

4 am

what is it about 4 am, I keep waking up, the being pooped all day, not that I'm waking up and being creative, that would be okay.

My head is full of the song 'Nocturn' off the new Kate Bush lp. been listening to it for a couple of weeks, as I managed to get hold of a promo, ahem... got to say I like the 2nd disc with the concept piece the best, it is genius. the 1st cd just doesn't quite do it for me, but it doesn't matter as the 2nd dis is the length of an lp anyway. its not that the 1st cd is bad, its just that the 2nd one is so good.

I have been editing poems a lot the last few days. trying to sort new work for upcoming submissions. Lots of new stuff coming, the anthology I edited for Commonword is out 1st December, and teh Ken Saro-Wiwa tribute anthology is out this Thursday. Its nice to be productive sort of like a validation for doing this rather odd job.

Think I'll make a cup of tea and go back to bed with my iPod.. but Keith Jarrett's 'eyes of the heart' i think for a change... or maybe John Martyn's 'One World'

Monday, 7 November 2005

Review of The Prize

The Prize, John Siddique
(Rialto, £7.95) http://www.therialto.co.uk/

First, the one objection. The print is too small and difficult to read as it's not the clearest print.

Maybe that means he can cram more poems in. Which would be great because on the whole this is a very readable and very thought-provoking collection. There is a quiet force to these poems that is rare to find in much English poetry. "Quiet" is not always a complimentary adjective in the poetry world: there are a lot of poems that are as undemonstrative as a dull day in Blackburn; but these poems are often full of feeling, emotions lying not very far from the surface, as here:

Cherry Tree

We are carving wood together,
I turn the head and Chris shapes with each beat.

The room is filled with cherry scent & schoolboys.
Every moment is its own. There is no talking,
no cause of pain.

I can smell the patcouli oil she wears.
We operate as one. I wonder do the schoolboys
notice our oneness. They are quiet too
shaping the pieces, rasping and smoothing,
carving shape. Constantly running their hands
over the limbs forming from each stroke and beat.


There's a sensuousness, even a gorgeousness about his language that drags you into the poems in this book, and a sense of enquiry that I find compelling. Even in the poems that deal with his own life as an Asian/European man living in England, I never see any striving to "put the message across" in a forced or artificial way. There is anger here; but there is also love.

He is, in fact, a very good love poet. I particularly liked his Ninety Day Theory, which manages to be both erotic and caring, and to reveal a truth about relationships that in the end you know aren't going to go anywhere. His poem about his father's smallpox (Variola) and the three sisters that died again manages to be both revealing and moving. It's a difficult task to be both, I feel; so many poems either pluck at the heartstrings or give us some information or play games with language that may be interesting but ultimately don't move us. There are poems here that are very direct, and others such as Horsebones which are more mysterious, like fragments from stories overheard but not completely; but always, there's an emotional charge, and an exploration of feelings that is very rare in a male poet.

John Siddique is published by a small but enterprising press from Norwich. All power to their arm if they continue to produce work like this.
by Steven Waling



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