The boy who couldn’t say his name is a joy to read, a book of poems packed with heart, humour and a unique slant on everyday life. The collection is underpinned but not dominated by the story behind the title, the painful experiences he endured as a child. His relationship with a Maths teacher is vividly described in 'Report: Maths 31%...'
'Her pinched cheeks, ivory, close enough to claw;
her quink-black eyes, close enough to skewer
with my newly sharpened HB pencil.'
In the title poem, he refers in third person to a boy who is bullied because of his stammer ‘in the game of seek-and-chide’. In 'My Father’s Cap' he writes:
'The day the kids at school find out
I’m Sally Army, I show them blood
but little fire. They vent their fury
at my deceit: this kid deserves
an extra slap. Bruises the colour
of my father’s cap.'
'Cornet Player on the Run' opens with these lines:
'Guilty. I deserted from the Salvation Army
halfway through Onward Christian Soldiers -'
I have always enjoyed John’s poems, and it has been good to watch him gradually conquer stage fright over the years since I first warmed to his work. In 'An account of the last moments of the poet' he translates his terror with his trademark humour:
'When I take the wrong turn and find myself
clomping up the steps to the block,
take my word, it’s not what I want to do –
a bloody inconvenient way to go.'
And in the hilarious 'DIY and Me', he expresses a similar – though not so extreme – feeling of alienation as he joins the queue in ‘Plumbers R Us’:
'I join the queue, trying to stand like a plumber,
As a huge fan of close-coupling, my ears prick up,
I feel like a fish out of water
like Ricky Gervais on Songs of Praise'
There are some memorable lines like, for example, in 'Inventory: in my shed I have the following':
'one garden rake, handle whittled to a point
a Charles and Di ashtray with a half-smoked joint'
He’s good on titles too:
'In the Museum of Air Guitars'
'Hair Loss: The Musical'
'The Lament of the Zanussi Luminary'
It has always been a pleasure listening to John’s work, and I am delighted that V Press are publishing this collection so that more people can enjoy, and no doubt relate to, his unique take on the ordinary and his wicked imagination.
This review at: https://weavingyarns1.wordpress.com/2019/04/03/the-boy-who-couldnt-say-his-name-book-review/
"John Lawrence knows how to tell a story, sometimes using analogy, and often setting up a scene then creating a volta, like a twist in the tale, so the ending is not predictable....Overall “The Boy Who Couldn’t Say His Name” contains wry, keenly-observed, mostly witty stories and vignettes taking a slant look at familiar scenarios and crafted with care to engage readers."
Emma Lee, full review here
More information and a sample poem from The boy who couldn't say his name can be found here.
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LAUNCH EVENTS & READINGS
Thurs 11 April 2019: Speakeasy, Wayland's Yard, Worcester, 7.30pm
Thurs 25 April 2019: Caffe Grande Slam, Dudley, 7pm
Mon 13 May 2019: Licensed to Rhyme, Cafe Morso, Barnt Green, 7pm
& more to come...