Two more reviews

Mel Pryor's Drawn on Water is one of the new Eyewear 20/20 pamphlet series.
What stands out for me is Pryor's delicately balanced eye and ear - there's a precision in her language and use of form that makes these poems a pleasure to read, and then read again, more deeply.  They give much, without showing off.
Pryor writes clearly about pregnancy and parenthood and long-term spouse-dom while remaining original. Yes, you might think, "typical women's themes" but no -
take this unusual metaphor which yokes a specific stage of foetal development while the narrator is map reading in the Lake District - an ambitious conceptual leap that someone like Elizabeth Bishop or Jo Shapcott might make -

'I'm sure I felt a shift of love/ inside me, the cells of his back/move to their perfect slot / a mole form on his spine like a small lake/ just then, when I found where we were...(Back)

or this wonderful description of a new-born child -

'...a boy, / a five pound four ounce ravel of son' (Emergency Birth) -

It made me think of limbs and cords all tangled and bundled like thick, wet rope; wonderful.

At her best Pryor is dryly humorous and tender, exemplified best in the feisty and deliciously precise Rattus rattus which was chosen by Kathleen Jamie as one of the winners of the Mslexia Poetry competition -

'...the eye blobs creaming in the orient heat/ of ninety five at least, the lower coat/
more grubby than the gunk it mouldered in...' (Rattus rattus).
I love 'nature' writing that captures the creature in an original way, and this works.
Drawn on Water is one of the most enjoyable pamphlets I have read in a while and I look forward to reading Pryor's work in the future.


I have been waiting for Rowyda Amin's Desert Sunflowers for what seems like years after enjoying her poems in various magazines - and it is a beaut. Rowyda was the winner of the Venture Award in the same year as I was runner-up and Flipped Eye have published an attractive pamphlet in their (slightly oddly named) Flap series.

These are international poems, poems without borders or hemmed in by convention. Amin pushes at the boundaries of the surreal, but never gets fatally carried away.

I love the intoxicating abandonment of the language in the opening poem 'Genius Loci' - which personifies the voice of an ecstatic tramp (I think) and is also a an examination of the strait-jacket of 9 to 5 conformity -

'I, the one-man band, clockless animal, whistling Tarzan, crap in
the grass, rapture dalliance on benches, chuckle in my yellow
beard a fuzz of tasty syllables.'

Amin is a poet in love with the possibilities of language and she runs with it like a burning torch. She is also unafraid of ambiguity and has a sly humour which manifests in startling imagery -

'On my birthday, my mother takes delivery
of a baby capuchin.'

'Monkey Daughter'.

Unforgettable images include the "chattering" of "daffodil teeth" and carrots described as "gilded girls' under "green lace and dandelion".

Perhaps my favourite poem is 'Polly' which articulates more about the human relation to captured animals than many other more famous nature poems. I won't quote it in parts, for it would spoil it. Buy and enjoy.


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