Review of ‘Talking with the Dead’ in Stand

I was very pleased to discover this week that Jon Glover has written a great review of my first collection alongside reviews of a fine clutch of poets – I hope you enjoy reading it, and discover the work of these other poets.

Review – Stand Magazine Volume 10 (2) 2011

Alongside collections by Rebecca Goss, Simon Smith, Tony Roberts and Susanna Roxman.

Jon Glover

Anne Caldwell’s first book, ‘Talking with the Dead’ has a poem derived from the poet’s visit to ‘do’ creative writing: National Poetry Day, Edge Hill School.’ It is a different way of ‘doing’ associations. But strangely, there are similar processes going on – when the class is falling apart (‘I can’t stand f’ing poetry’.) Caldwell reaches for a copy of Yeats to read from. The over-used text book falls apart, ‘its spine spitting the pages out. What’s anarchy is that like Punk?’ And there is another telling culture clash in ‘Ghandi Visits Cafe Nero, Boar Lane Leeds’:

He takes a sip of water and leans his staff

against the Panini cabinet, sits cross legged

in the queue and doesn’t speak.

The processes in both poems manipulate and fall under the spell of the language of unexpected intersection – where observed and observer cross in description and understanding. Partly what is operating is the meeting places of everyday speech and partly it is with the sudden foregrounding of Ghandi and Yeats with all their linguistic and political baggage. Caldwell’s poems are seductively original, and, at their best, link everyday language and bizarre events so as to surprise and shock:

Slug Language

Kitchen, 3am.

Pure tongue,

their bodies write out

the glow of a pearly button

burst from a pale shift

the sheen of a vulva.

They have criss-crossed my lino

all night, wound together like a nest of snakes

to smear the soles of my feet

with their silver calligraphy.

I print the whole house with desire.

Several of these poets have an important relationship with perceived history and especially with their bodies’ rediscovery through their imaginative recreation of their own flesh in history………

Final part of the review:

There are some nice parallels with Anne Caldwell’s group of poems, ‘The Underwater House’ and with her interest in the anatomy of birds and life in coffee bars. In various ways, both poets feel, or dance their way into their subjects and they both accept, as does Rebecca Goss, ways in which language as subject matter feels its way into them.

Stand Magazine

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