Posted on November 25, 2011 by Wendy
Being a novelist, I am always looking for narrative even in the finest poetry. I am rarely let down:
What can ail thee knight at arms/alone and palely loitering? Now there’s a story…
… he took me out on a sled,/And I was frightened. He said, Marie,/Marie, hold on tight. And down we went./ In the mountains Oh boy, what a story is there!
My novelist’s instincts have been riding high in reading Kathleen Jones’ poetry collection “Not Saying Goodbye at Gate 21’
Kathleen is wonderful at showing the hard surface of things and illuminating the drama and depth of things beneath. The poems linger with you in the cafe, or in the bar on the marketplace; they make you think of your own life with its passions, its tragedies.
It is impossible to summarise the themes and the implicit powerful narrative in this collection of fifty four poems. Literary inspiration is there with the empathetic poem dedicated to Christina Rossetti; metaphors for sensual, sexual passion both disguise and illuminate depth of feeling.The most powerful stories here are those in a Cumbrian setting with their tacit signals of power and duty: The Fell Gate which delicately alludes to a life story with dark undertones; the very ambiguous War Hero and the troubling Uncle John, …who was the family conscience. And we have to deal with the dark conclusion to The Soul Catcher: …I have souls to sell you/ for the usual fee – / should you lose yours.
The most powerful writing here for me – the keenest voice – is where the writer illuminates the peculiarly tacit nature of intimate relationships in working class households – as in the poem Ginny. … Ginny carves the bread against her breast/ dealing slices to her brothers/ seeing her father’s shadow at their backs/ putting her school prize on the fire….
And most potent for me - The Laying Out Of the Dead - would be spoiled by mere quotation here and must be read in full in a quiet place.
‘Not Saying Goodbye at Gate 21’ is a book of fine poems and also – for this novelist – a buried treasure house of narrative.
Endnote: The book – published by Templar Poetry is beautiful in itself – lovely to see, handle and read.