“In a time where high street shops are declining or under threat, Checkout is a timely ode, set in Middle England with a ‘cadenced heart,/ alert to daily rhythms, oiled/ by traffic, chips and friends.’ We can add dogs and peregrine to the series of vignettes of everyday people, caught with a keen ear, passionate not to lose the nuances of a century’s old tradition. These voices are guided by a young narrator, who serves and observes; someone who is on her own odyssey that ventures around the world without moving out of the confines of the cash desk. As people make their daily pilgrimage to this local shop, there are elements of Canterbury Tales and Bukowski flowing through this brave collection.” Roy Mcfarlane
As confident as sugar lumps in Yorkshire Tea, Checkout is very immersive, very real.
A sample poem from the pamphlet can be found below.
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Pembe: Snow in Istanbul
Four flights of stairs to a wooden loft.
I flicked false triumph from my paintbrush,
spattered anger over canvas
stretched out on the lime-white floor.
Beneath the frozen sky, I argued,
cut through dead-end debts and lies,
spread ink blots on his frogspawn heart.
A second canvas, white and square,
was laid out like the first, but turned
so every corner pointed at a wall.
I stretched up to the skylight, bent
to fling fresh paint at what comes next.
The brilliant colours furled and landed
where new stories said they must.
The day the sun broke through, I tried
to sell the pictures of my life
to a dealer from the Grand Bazaar.
Enticed by promises of tea,
he climbed the stairs to my attic room
and tried to buy the snow-white, star-shaped
space, revealed, uncovered on the floor.
Listen to Kathy Gee read this poem:
“Kathy Gee’s pamphlet is different. Set in a small shop, the collection is presented through the eyes of Nona, the reluctant shop assistant. Nona introduces each of her customers with a piece of 100-word flash fiction, before the customers tell us about themselves in a poem.
“This device enables Gee to create dissonance between the customer’s views of themselves and Nona’s own perceptions of them. The mismatch between Nona’s view and reality underpins particular poignancy in some poems. […]
“Nona and her customers are everyday heroes.”
Rennie Halstead, OPOI (One Point of Interest) review, Sphinx, full review here.
"Nona’s story is a constant; we find out more with each new customer and grow increasingly attached. It’s a brief but beautifully poignant read and one that I’d love to hear performed."
Lisa Williams, Everybody's Reviewing, full review here