Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
gfx gfx
Got a few minutes to kill? Try the Doom Flash Challenge afro -,36.0.html
gfx gfx
55873 Posts in 6181 Topics by 556 Members - Latest Member: wallynicholson666 September 17, 2019, 12:22:46 AM
gfx* HomeForumHelpLoginRegistergfx
0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.       « previous next »
Pages: [1] Go Down Print
Author Topic: The Departure by Chris Emery  (Read 1333 times)
« on: April 27, 2012, 10:48:32 AM »

The Departure

by Chris Emery

ISBN:  9781907773150
Salt Modern Poets

I first read this book a week ago on the East Coast Mainline from Darlington to London Kings Cross (‘Look left, a cobbled lane and a crypt of hats’). I read it again from St Pancras to Paris Gare du Nord (‘above the summer marriage of grasses’), and again from Paris Montparnasse to Niort (‘All the forks, the platters, the cruet set: everything is dancing.’). I waited several days, and read it again, three times on the return journey; the last time, back to front so that I ended with ‘Snails’. Those snails! (‘Why are they all called Tony or Erasmus or King Nacre?’) I love this poem. It opens the book and encapsulates all that for me is so wonderful about Chris Emery’s poetry: the wit, the connections, the sheer joy in words and what they can do, the shock of unexpected juxtapositions, the extraordinary insight into the ordinary, the leap beyond the mundane into the terrifying, the ineffable logic – and Droylsden. Okay, Droylsden’s not actually mentioned in the snail poem, but does appear elsewhere, more than once.

For those nervous of the dreaded D word, I should mention the somewhat more genteel Southwold is there too, so you can relax. Temporarily. Where else? Bromley, of course (my husband has this theory that you’ll read/see mention of Bromley at least once a week. I’ve no idea why this should be, but remember Janice from Bromley in that ad on the telly not so long ago?) plus Burnley, various Manchester locations, the Wale Obelisk, Celaenae (an ancient city of Phrygia – yes I had to look it up), Cromer, Cambridge and across the pond to the States for a quick tour, then back again to the penultimate poem: a glorious concoction of observations made in a nameless motel that had me spluttering with laughter at its grossness.

George Szirtes, on the back cover blurb, says these poems ‘are like highly compressed short stories that we enter at high speed.’ This is it exactly, and herein lies Emery’s skill. When you write a novel, you’re generally advised to lose the first few chapters of the early drafts so that in the finished product the reader is plunged straight into the heart of the tale without having to wade through endless waffle as the writer introduces the world they’ve created. Emery shortcuts this process with a vengeance. A lesser poet would ease the reader gently into the scene; would explain the settings and who these people are – particularly creepy Carl – but if Carl had been carefully introduced, the impact of the poem would be lost in the sensory dilution of too much guff. Emery’s words are richly textured but never over-baked; never there just to say ‘Look at me! Don’t I look good on the page!’ These words matter: these contexts, these agonised, pained, joyous, hilarious worlds.

A brief word about the book as an artefact. I’m an artist. I like things of beauty: tactile things, things that feel good, smell good, things with colours I can almost taste. This gorgeously bound hardback volume is a thing to possess, to handle – to ogle even – regardless of the poetry inside. That it contains some of the best poetry I’ve read in a long time is a welcome bonus, of course.

So I arrived home from my train journey wanderings, my mind buzzing with the new sights, sounds and experiences of my trip abroad, and promptly wrote three poems. I like to think these were influenced in some way by my reading matter; that something of Emery’s skill and way with words may have rubbed off. I certainly now have a determination to raise my game as a poet. I’ve always played with words, enjoyed words, enjoyed manipulating my readers’ minds and emotions – but I could be doing so much more. I’m feeling inspired. Thank you, Chris Emery. I’m not going to wait for the next long train journey to read ‘The Departure’ again. It’s sitting beside me as I type this review, and is going to stay by my side for a long while yet.
Pages: [1] Go Up Print 
Jump to:  
Powered by SMF 1.1.21 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines Page created in 0.11 seconds with 28 queries.
Helios /
Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!