Oi, oi – the Spring 2009 issue of Poetry London is out. Amongst other things, it contains my review of Mandeville by Matthew Francis, Bloodshot Monochrome by Patience Agbabi and Hoodoo Voodoo by D.S. Marriott. Here’s an excerpt:
The railway is figured as a brooding Hades, commuter trains hammering through ‘the seven circles’. Death is the chief concern of these poems, with ash its central image suggesting the fire of lynch mobs, burning crosses and West African mourning rituals: ‘the last tribal refuge’. The world of Marriott’s poetic imagination is charged by death, enchanted by ghosts. The accrual of images of death (blood, ash, bone) in Hoodoo Voodoo mirrors the way in which the largeness of history grinds the psyche into statis; how, as Huk puts it, ‘images of ourselves are merely afterimages of long-running processes of cultural repression, violence, disavowal and dreaming’. If poetry, the act of language, might provide redemption from this stasis, it is a botched job.