We’re very very delighted to share news of reviews of not just one but four V. Press titles in the latest The Journal. The following are from reviews by Sam Smith.
A Career in Accompaniment by Alex Reed
“Instant poignancy, poems telling of instances in the progress of a partner’s multiple sclerosis. Hope against fatalism, how care has to, of necessity, come to the fore. That loving and caring beyond love and regret perfectly expressed here in descriptions that come alive: ‘Most mornings as I open the gate, / he’s there. Ancient Labrador at his heels, / John’s a tall man with a gardener’s tan. / He occupies the slow rhythm of retirement, / a gentle aliveness that reveals itself/ when all the rushing’s done.’ Comrades. A gift of his pain this booklet, has print that will blur at times through your tears, but will leave you the stronger for having read. Thank you Alex Reed.” Sam Smith, The Journal
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Book of Bones by Kathy Gee
“…And just when I was wondering how else to fairly describe the contents I arrived at Traces and relief – to find those ingredients also here. That almost indefinable that skirts around mind’s edges, the not obvious, not quite, but that we know it is there, we know it’s right. Her Provenance too took me back for a second reading. Also, and probably reflecting my taste for the estranged, Book of Bones worth getting for Northerner in the South and Orientation –
A map is not the landscape,
knows the road but cannot tell you
how to find your way.
Life’s a chart of known unknowns
where here-be-dragons curl
and monsters guard the Empty Quarter.
This is nothing new. Don’t worry.
Home is always split
between at least three different maps.
We live beyond the contour lines.”
Sam Smith, The Journal
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Fragile Houses by Nina Lewis
“Opens with anecdotal poems of childhood and family members, moves on to objects and absences. Every childhood owns similarities, none the same. As the differences grow so do the poems in Fragile Houses become more interesting – the single-parent mother lauded, absent father defended: “He didn’t wait for old age to be eccentric.’ A Mother’s Heart to Heart. She even takes us to when the backwards genealogy of self is no longer predominant, self subsumed into the expanding and disparate life to come.” Sam Smith, The Journal
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The Old Man in the House of Bone by David Calcutt, with illustrations from Peter Tinkler
“David Calcutt’s poems outnumber Peter Tinkler’s illos, but given the power of the drawings, especially the first two, I can see why the cover gave them equal credit. All the poems relate to the indefinite memory of an old man inable to identify himself, of the searches he makes inside himself where everything is almost something else… The old man’s thinking about the war, and contains these lines – ‘…he goes on speaking/ but the silences have stopped listening and his words / drop soundless to the cold depths where the silences / eat them…’ Having been a nurse on psycho-geriatric wards everything here rang true, is the best description of the process of dementia I’ve come across. A piece of work I’d recommend to anyone looking after a dementing relative or friend, to have some idea of what their patient is going through.” Sam Smith, The Journal