Thursday, January 17

Clare Pollard's Bedtime

Borrowed this from the library. After reading, I'm surprised it hasn't been taken out more. You know when something which you read excited you so much you want to palm it off on people, even people who don't 'do' poetry? That. It gave me a lot of that.

Poetry like this must be good for other people's stomach muscles too. Some of the jokes and innuendo is so obvious, but she manages to get away with it. It's not poetry which is asking to be liked, I don't think. And it is putting on a show. Take a poem named 'Turn of the Screw' – now take it's last line, proudly alone, 'and me all whole beneath the weight of you'. It is poetry which is showing off in a lot of ways, there's no doubt about that, but I like that; she’s risking showing off with the language which includes the ‘mah’ so-and-so of Northern conversation. It's playful, not taking itself too serious, not scared of writing about 'Sky One' in her 'post A-level summer', or that her art was a 'selfish' one.

The poem called 'The Smear Test' could rally with Olds' work, but sounds very much Pollard’s own. And I don't mean that it's predictable, because it's certainly not: I want to say something about her having a voice, rather than sounding like she's trying out different ones but unsure of all of them, only I’m not quite sure how to get this across. Anyway –

She gives us A-level summer confessions, telling of how 'Hometown' is the place she will be glad to walk out of tomorrow, and the pain of a place she tried to make 'something to pine for', though she doesn't sound convinced this happened, plus we have Sonnets about 'childhood certainty I want back'. I love it. It's exciting, it feels real, I can imagine her saying it without having ever heard her reading or speaking, and it’s given me a line I'm determined to get into a certain essay. As for which that is, I'll leave you to guess when you read it yourself.


Ben Wilkinson said...

I saw Claire read at Latitude last summer: her poetry is certainly in the confessional line, but it's also bang up-to-date and often v powerful and exciting as you say, and though her reading style was quite quiet and measured, it was nonetheless engaging enough. Her first and third collections are also worth a look. You might also be interested in this interview I put together:

Katy Murr said...

The Latitude festival sounds interesting (I've yet to go to any yet!) Have you read any/ much of Sharon Olds? Her work is certainly confessional, albeit with quite different pacing. If you like Clare Pollard, you might like her. Perhaps she hadn't had that glass of red wine which she normally does! Sometimes quiet is more commanding, as it requires that little bit more concentration. I remember going to a reading once somewhere in town, and what I heard was great - but we could barely hear anything! I've a couple of poems from her first collection in an anthology by Bloodaxe, yet to try any of her third one - will have a look for it, definitely. Thanks for the link - fantastic that you got to meet her!