Most of the poems are narrative-based and use plain language. They are easy to understand. Nevertheless, Conn makes getting to the heart of things look deceptively effortless, as in ‘Playing Cards with Poulenc’. The composer was subject to mood-swings and would turn his hat brim up or down as a sign of whether he wanted to chat or be left alone. Some people saw this as attention-seeking: what’s more important—the way you look at the world, or the way the world looks at you? The poem takes off when you come to these lines. To be honest, I wish there had been more text as thought-provoking as this in the collection, a little more engagement with complexity. However, the lack of memorable particularity is offset by authentic emotional depth. In ‘Sir Robert de Septvans’, a brass rubbing is framed by the poet’s wife and hung in home after home before suffering a tear and being rolled up in a cylinder. The couple are “unsure what the future may hold for him” — or ourselves, for whom he spanned half a lifetime and whose he may unwittingly become. The fragility, depth and mortality of love fuse powerfully in this strong final couplet.
Published by Mariscat Press.
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