Monday, 20 July 2015

Latest Chez Nous Recommendation

The latest news from our Chez Nous section is a series of delicious recommendations to enjoy with Jacqui Rowe's Ransom Notes.

Obviously, we think our V. Press pamphlets are great, otherwise we wouldn't publish them. The idea behind Chez Nous then is to offer something very different to a traditional review and a reminder that poetry isn't just words on a page but an experience. To this end, our readers/poetry-sommeliers recommend what they have found to be the perfect accompaniments to bring out the full flavours of each V. Press pamphlet. Today, Angela Topping's recommendations for enjoying with Ransom Notes.


"This fascinating narrative built up from fragments of unlikely found texts and poem drafts by Rowe, would be a great accompaniment to a blue soft cheese like Cambozola, the name of which is a cunning combination of Gorgonzola and Camembert. It resembles a blue Brie, and Rowe’s poems offer the same surprising pockets of salty unexpectedness, such as in these lines from ‘GHAZAL’:

            sanctified by silverpoint mistaken
            pinioned by the evening star anyway
            I put you in a century

The deliberate lack of punctuation allows the readers to spread the creaminess on their crackers in any size portion they like, and nibble or gobble as the poem requires. ‘HENNA’ is definitely a nibbling poem for me, so every morsel can be savoured. From the start, it needs to be taken slowly:

            I go on like a henna labyrinth
            contact print of onion skins
mildewed rose crushed into the weave

Now isn’t that just lush? A supper for a poet, to be washed down with a crisp, dry Chablis on a summer evening, sitting outdoors as dusk falls. I love the faded colours of the henna and the rose. The poems might appear as random as a cottage garden but the careful crafting and shaping makes it a well tended one. Each poem has a single word title and takes the reader into a meditation which is often dreamlike, for example in ‘GLACIER’:

            inside this glacier of art
            the wolverine dived back
            into the sea and felt his limbs
            retract into a dolphin

When you have scoffed your Cambozola and drunk a few glasses of the Chablis while relishing these poems, you too may feel like the wolverine."

Angela Topping 

For sample poems or to buy Ransom Notes, please click here.

Angela Topping was born in the year post-war food rationing ended. Perhaps this is the reason for her lifelong love affair with food and all good things. Another of those good things is poetry, of which she has written seven collections and four pamphlets. Over the years, her prowess in wine appreciation has graduated from Blue Nun and Mateus Rose into a liking for the finer fragranced and fuller bodied. And since she has become more full bodied and likes perfume, this is very appropriate. For years, wine was a balm after a hard day in the classroom and now she is freelance again, it is an inspiration and a treat.

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